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News Release


Front-line staff spared in effort to reduce impact on public

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (June 3, 2010) – Clerk & Comptroller Sharon Bock has announced, for the second year in a row, a major budget cut in the wake of the legislative session. This year, the office faces a $3.2 million budget shortfall in the fiscal year starting on July 1. More than $630,000 of that must be cut by June 30. 

This comes after a $7.1 million budget cut last year which gouged the office’s operating expenses by 42 percent and forced the elimination of 101 positions. In addition to the unfortunate side effect of delays in processing court documents, the public now waits two to three hours in line at the Clerk’s offices in downtown West Palm Beach, Delray Beach, Belle Glade and Palm Beach Gardens. 

Clerk Bock said she was intent on doing whatever was necessary this year to avoid laying off any hourly employees who provide direct services to the public. 

“We had cut operating expenses to the bone, so when we were looking at another $3.2 million, we knew it would be impossible to avoid losing more employees,” said Bock.  “We also knew that we wanted to spare our customers the impact of having even fewer employees to serve them.”

In late May, eight positions—primarily supervisor, manager or director jobs—were eliminated. Six exempt employees were laid off and two vacant positions were eliminated. Two of the laid off employees had volunteered for buyouts offered by the office. Responsibilities and functions were consolidated within departments and distributed among remaining employees. To minimize the impact on customers, the eliminated positions were spread throughout the organization from courts, finance, and administration.

Since 2008, the office has cut 23 percent of its management staff, and 12 percent of hourly employees. The cost savings from this reorganization, combined with the buyout offered earlier, will cover the amount that needs to be cut by June 30. The estimated $2.6 million that remains to be cut will be spread throughout the fiscal year that ends on June 30, 2011.

These latest efforts follow two straight years of cost-cutting initiatives which have included renegotiating all vendor contracts, hiring freezes, eliminating pay raises and reducing benefits.

“Cutting great employees has been the most difficult task of this budget downturn,” Bock said.  “My goal is to gain efficiencies through the use of technology and to continue serving the public at the level they expect and deserve.”

A new court case management computer slated for the fall and other technology projects geared toward increasing efficiency are on the horizon.

For more information about the Clerk’s office, please visit www.mypalmbeachclerk.com or call (561) 355-2996. For budget information, please click on the “Clerks in the Sunshine” tab on the home page.

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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