Leon County residents will soon face longer turnaround times at the courthouse. A smaller budget means fewer hours every day to pay traffic tickets and file papers.
Starting July 1, the state’s court clerks are facing a 7 percent budget cut. In Leon County, that means cutting back hours clerks are open to the public. Leon County Clerk Bob Inzer says he’s cutting two hours per day: The new hours will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. He says people will probably notice that several services are slower or reduced as well, including phone help for civil cases, and general case processing.
Instead of hiring more full-time staff, Leon County has hired part-time employees who don’t receive benefits. And, courts director Gypsy Bailey says, employees haven’t received raises in the past five years.
“You’re working, and you’re working hard, and you’re still struggling at home to take care of your bills and your student loans and your children, and you do good work, and you’re appreciated here at work, but you have nothing in your checking account or your wallet to prove that," Bailey says of her employees.
Facing a budget shortfall of $30 million statewide, other clerks have closed branch offices and laid off staff. But it’s still possible some or all of money could be restored statewide. A legislative budget panel will discuss the clerks of court budget at a July 12 meeting. And, Inzer says, all of Florida’s chief judges and the Florida Bar support restoring that money in the next year.