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WUSF teams with courts to save money

In an effort to save taxpayers’ money and provide new community services, WUSF and the 13th Judicial Circuit Court have started a five-year partnership.

In the partnership, WUSF will lease its digital equipment to the courts to make them more cost effective. WUSF will manage and provide the equipment, maintenance and service for all operations provided to the court.

“The whole idea of outsourcing is that it has more cost savings than hiring new employees and buying new equipment,” said Court Administrator Michael Bridenback.

Before the relationship is initiated, Bridenback said a number of agreements need to be put in place. These agreements show what technology will be used and how the courts will put them in place. They include support for the courtrooms’ desktop computers, computer networking, telephone management, audio and video support and court reporting.

“What we are trying to do is have a comprehensive approach where we target the most advanced technology to fit the need of the courts,” Bridenback said. “The partnership is a big benefit to a court facing very difficult financial times, as well as challenges in terms of case loads.”

WUSF’s general manager, JoAnn Urofsky, said the partnership will help the radio station bring more supportive services to the community. The station’s hope is to use the money from this partnership to fund other community projects.

“Our goal for a long time has been to really transform public broadcasting at WUSF and to be able to fund new programs that we produce and bring to this community,” Urofsky said.

The two organizations are currently working on the first agreement, which pertains to court reporting. Bridenback said the courts will use the new audio digital technology to enhance the quality and accuracy of the courtroom transcripts. He said both parties should be able to conclude the terms of the first agreement soon and hope to begin the partnership by July 1.

Bridenback and Urofsky said they have high hopes for the future of the partnership.

“My hopes are that this will be a visionary type of partnership that will be at the vanguard for how we deal with these kinds of issues in the future,” Bridenback said. “We just have to work out all the details, but I’m very hopeful that this will be a very valuable partnership not only to the courts and USF, but to this community.”

WUSF is also looking into partnerships with other nonprofit and cultural organizations in order to bring more educational programs to the community.

“I think the essence of (the partnership) is really creating synergy between two organizations and continuing to fund our programs and provide services to the courts and other partners,” Urofsky said.