LEGISLATIVE CUTS FORCE CLERK & COMPTROLLER TO CLOSE BRANCH OFFICE
Royal Palm Beach Office Will Stop Serving Customers on June 30
WEST PALM BEACH, FL (June 10, 2009) – Due to severe budget cuts and staff layoffs, the Clerk & Comptroller’s mid-county branch in Royal Palm Beach, will close on June 30 at 5 p.m. The branch, which is located in the Midwestern Communities Services Center on 200 Civic Center Way, assists about 1,000 customers a week with a variety of court and county filings, including traffic citation payments, marriage licenses, Value Adjustment Board petitions and passports.
The five employees who work in the mid-county branch will be reassigned to perform critical and legally-required core services at the main courthouse or other branch locations suffering from recent budget cuts. Clerk Sharon Bock announced May 30 that 66 of her employees would need to be cut to meet a state-mandated $7.1 million, or 18 percent, reduction in the office’s budget by July 1. The office has lost a total of 101 positions this year. The passage this legislative session of Senate Bills 2108 and 1718, which were initiated by Florida judges and supported by the Florida Bar, Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff and Sen. Ken Pruitt, slashed $46 million from Clerk budgets statewide.
“With the budget cuts, the legislature has forced us to eliminate several practices focused on customer convenience,” said Clerk Bock. “Unfortunately, any cut we make affects the public in some way. We’re trying to make cuts that have the least impact.”
The mid-county branch does not offer court proceedings, and, therefore, is the only location that can close without impacting the rest of the judiciary. There are no plans to close any other locations. The Clerk previously announced the elimination of front-counter windows designed to expedite transactions for attorneys and same-day payment for cash bonds. With an annual loss of more than 210,000 work hours due to layoffs, longer lines and unprecedented case filing backlogs are also anticipated. The office no longer has funding for overtime, which was used to clear out heavy backlogs such as those caused by the skyrocketing increase in foreclosure case filings.
After the mid-county branch location in Royal Palm Beach closes, Clerk customers may visit the Main Courthouse in West Palm Beach or other branch offices in Belle Glade, Delray Beach and Palm Beach Gardens. Many services, such as traffic ticket payments and VAB petitions, can be done on the Clerk & Comptroller’s Web site, www.mypalmbeachclerk.com. While the Clerk’s office is closing in the Midwestern Communities Services Center, other government agencies located within the building, such as the Tax Collector and Property Appraiser, will remain open.
The Florida Constitution established the independent office of the Clerk & Comptroller as a public trustee, responsible for safeguarding public records and public funds. Clerk Sharon Bock is directly elected by and accountable to Palm Beach County residents. In addition to the roles of Clerk of the Circuit Court, County Recorder and Clerk of the Board of County Commissioners, the Clerk & Comptroller is the Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Auditor for Palm Beach County.
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