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News Release

CLERK BOCK: TEMPORARY WORKERS WILL HELP CLEAR PORTION OF FORECLOSURE BACKLOG

$403k in state money expected to help move approximately 16 percent of pending cases

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (July 7, 2010) – The Clerk & Comptroller’s office will hire as many as 15 temporary employees devoted solely to helping clear a backlog of nearly 53,000 pending foreclosure cases, Clerk Sharon Bock announced Tuesday.

The Clerk’s office is using $403,000 it received from the Florida Legislature to hire the temporary employees. Each of the state’s 67 Clerks received a share of $3.6 million appropriated by the 2010 Legislature to help Florida’s courts speed up its handling of foreclosure cases.

Many of the temporary positions have been filled, while the remaining jobs are expected to be filled by the end of this week.

The money is helpful, but Clerk Bock said it won’t be nearly enough to process the thousands of pending foreclosure cases in Palm Beach County. She estimates the $403,000 will be enough to help the Clerk’s office move about 16 percent, or about 8,400, of the pending foreclosures in Palm Beach County.

“We’re grateful for the money to hire additional employees,” Clerk Bock said. “However, a one-time appropriation is not a long-term solution to the crippling backlog we’ve seen in our courts.”

After foreclosure judgments are entered, each individual case still requires an average of two hours’ work for the Clerk’s office. That includes time to copy, mail and docket judgment information for all attorneys and parties involved in a case; preparing and issuing notices of sale; conducting the sale; processing motions in a case; and preparing certificates of sale, certificates of title, and writs of possession.

In approximately one-quarter of cases, sales are canceled and subsequently reset, which requires clerks to repeat much of the same work over again.

“We’re going to do the best we can to work quickly,” Clerk Bock said. “However, people must understand that the role Florida’s Clerks play in handling these foreclosure cases is complex and involves multiple steps.”

Florida’s foreclosure crisis hammered courts just as the state’s 67 Clerks were hit with major budget cuts that required many Clerks to shutter offices and lay off employees. Palm Beach County’s Clerk lost $7.1 million to budget cuts, and was forced to eliminate 109 jobs since last year.

Clerk Bock estimates her office will have a $3.2 million budget gap to close during the fiscal year that started Thursday, July 1.

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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