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PBC Clerk to Senate Prez: Access to justice in your hands

by Dara Kam | March 30th, 2010

Nearly half of the phone calls to the Palm Beach County courthouse will go unanswered and people could wait for up to four hours to get served in person under budget cuts slipped into the Senate budget with little warning last week, county clerk Sharon Bock warned in a letter to Senate President Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach.a

“Access to justice has already been severely compromised in Palm Beach County,” Bock wrote. “Further cuts will cause court cases to languish without any foreseeable resolution.”

Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander cut the clerks’ budget $23 million statewide – a $2.7 million cut in Palm Beach County – in a last minute amendment filed less than an hour before his budget meeting began on Thursday.

The Senate is expected to vote on the budget tomorrow. Palm Beach County Democratic Sens. Dave Aronberg and Ted Deutch filed an amendment to restore the clerks’ $23 million Alexander cut using a complicated formula that bases their budgets on per-case costs.

Bock said she would stop offering walk-in service at courthouses in Belle Glade, Palm Beach Gardens and Delray Beach, forcing the downtown courthouse to handle another 324,000 customers if the cuts go through.

Bock axed 101 workers last year after taking a $7.1 million budget hit and said she will have to lay off another 100 under the current plan, a 23 percent reduction in staff.

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22 Responses to “PBC Clerk to Senate Prez: Access to justice in your hands”

  1. FAT GOVERNMENT Says:

    All this whining on the clerk’s part. Where did all the money go when home prices were soaring and tax coffers were overflowing with money from inflated home values!!!???? Let me guess- it was wasted. Funny that 100 people were cut last year and nobody has noticed any difference. Why didn’t we cut that before?? Oh yeah, we just wasted the money we had. Great management of your budget Mrs. Bock!!!!

  2. PBC Resident Says:

    It took just five years for the county budget to soar from $1 billion to $4 billion. What happened to that extra $3 billion a year? I don’t see any increase in services. We did fine for decades when the budget was under $1 billion…..And oh, we have less residents and students…

  3. Human Says:

    How much does Ms. Bock make? Goodbye!

  4. LicensedToSteal Says:

    Did you ever hear anyone managing a government organization say, we need to trim down. You never will, every governement agency’s goal is to continue to grow no matter what. Even if they have extra cash, rather than returning it to taxpayers, they prefer spending it…that way they can request an increase the next year.

  5. Whiny Bock Says:

    Bock needs to go. If she can’t handle her office on a reduced budget then she is incompetent.

    If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the clerk’s office.

    We need an administrator that will learn to compensate when times are tough instead of whining all the time when money is unavailable to her.

    Oust Bock!

  6. Susan Says:

    I don’t understand the logic- why would a Senate budget chief make a “last minute secret amendment” cutting 2.7 million? How are these numbers determined and how do they determine how much and which counties are cut? It is “our” money right? We have a legal right to access public records, right? What about trials & cases, especially involving children and their placement? Where are all the property tax proceeds going? WTF?

  7. bruce Says:

    Have you ever tried to call any gov’t angency? They don’t answer anyway.

  8. Art Says:

    Where is the Tea Party along with Sara and this guy Alex.

  9. over paid administrators Says:

    Stop spending money on over paid administrators and IT staff and start paying the lower person who performs the daily operational task. Talk about top heavy…….

  10. FAIRNESS Says:

    Somebody is either stealing our tax money, or is just too stupid to spend it wisely.
    Property taxes are way too high to begin with and the idiots running things can’t manage even with all that money.
    Fire ‘em all!!!

  11. B.S.S. Says:

    What a whining piece of CR_P these people are…so what…our justice system is TOTALLY corrupt anyway….its mostly people involved in petty stuff and traffic tickets (except for Frankel).

    Tell them to suck it up like the rest of us.

    And fire this nin-com-poop if she cannot make things work on a lower budget.

    DO ALL GOVT workers get a class in treating everyone that comes in like they are doing them a favor for doing ANYTHING at all?

    Govt workers have the WORST and least deserved attitudes of anyone…THEY ALL WORK FOR US! But they don’t act like it.

  12. Human Says:

    I hate to break it to you B.S.S. but EVERYBODY works “FOR” somebody, even you! How well do you treat your customers. If you are any one of workers that I have seen at any store, food establishment or construction you have very little room to talk.
    It does make you feel “all powerful” saying that though, doesn’t it?

  13. I THOUGHT Says:

    I thought obama was going to save us all?

  14. Human Huh? Says:

    Human…you sound like you need a job as a GOVT CLERK you have the perfect mindset.

    You yo-yo….sure….you can get bad service from a restaurant or any business over and over again, but you can also go elsewhere and they soon go out of business.

    WITH GOVErNment clerks……you have no choice and its the CITIZENS that directly pay them…..they know that if there service stinks…nothing happens to them…they are DOUBLE DIPPING civil servants with guaranteed fat checks for life..

    Well , hopefully its all gonna end.

    That’s not all powerful….its called a reality check.

  15. Rob Says:

    I saw today Zephyrhills delivering water to the Courthouse. Hmmm…bottled water still over jobs, they must not be too bad with available cash.

  16. daisyzmom Says:

    #1–Clerks only COLLECT the money from fees and fines. Just like the guy taking your money for a movie ticket–he doesn’t keep it, it goes to the movie theatre. Do you call him lazy and overpaid and a jerk when they raise the ticket prices?

    Oh, and incidentally, THE STATE TAKES THE COLLECTED FUNDS FROM THE CLERKS BANK ACCOUNTS.Very, very little remains, that’s why 1300 CLERKS EMPLOYEES WERE LAID OFF LAST SUMMER.

    #2–Last year, your, OUR STATE LEGISLATORS voted to cut Clerk offices budgets AND added extra work that they must comply with BY LAW AND wiped out the funds by a) putting the dough into their own pet projects b) ATTEMPTING TO CHARGE THE CLERKS OFFICES A PROCESSING FEE FOR MONEY THAT THE CLERKS COLLECT IN THE FIRST PLACE AND SEND TO THE STATE.

    #3 Clerks follow the rules and laws of the STATE. Voted on by House and Senate Legislators. Google JD Alexander and look at the snaky things he just snuck into a few bills last Thursday—Like letting up to 1300 prison employees go so that BLACKWATER can run a jail system. At ultimately a higher cost. Oh, and read about him asking for funds for a great new medical facility for Tampa, but once it was voted on, “Oh By The Way, this is being built in MY home turf in Polk OCunty, not Tampa”, snicker snicker. You folks need to read nore and point fingers at the working stiffs less.

  17. Facts Says:

    All you nuts crack me up. You have absolutely no idea what it takes to run an office that serves the largest county in Florida. Have any idea how many cases go through our system on a daily, monthly or yearly basis? Or all the other services they provide? Well neither do I, but at least I’m smart enough to admit it. Is the budget bloated? I don’t know and neither do you. How many people does it take to run the office? I don’t know and neither do you.

    You’re just raging anti-government loons.

    FACT: Florida has the fourth LOWEST tax burden of any state in the Union. FACT: The U.S. ranks 19th (near the bottom) in terms of the tax burden per capita of industrialized nations.

    Stop the lying. Your taxes are low compared to the rest of the states, and very low compared to the rest of the world.

  18. Nothing Says:

    We need less government anyway we can get it……….and the legal system is way to big and out of control here….we have 2 lawyers to every resident…its a joke…and produces nothing valuable.

  19. LicensedToSteal Says:

    Hey Facts,

    Do your facts mean that we should continue to permit Florida government to mis-use tax payer money just because as you say, “Florida has the fourth LOWEST tax burden”? Even with a low tax burden, there is plenty of waste going on….just read what Rob wrote….and that’s just the tip of the iceburg. Fall asleep and the government will take all your money.

  20. OBIWAN Says:

    Is there any service the Clerk of Court furnishes that does not have a FEE attached?? Court costs? Processing Fees? Recording Fees? Service Fees?? Fee Fees??

    IF they were collecting all the FEES they are due they would break even, wouldn’t they??

    Why don’t they break even??

    I had the unfortunate experience of visiting the Taj once weekday morning…when I got to “next” the whole floor shut down for an impromptu birthday celebration! My “clerk” couldn’t find the paperwork, ran three unrelated errands before coming back to send me to another “window”, where I waiting in another line listening to Public Defenders make silly little deals with DA Prosecutors and arrange drinks and a bite later… Never, ever experienced anything so disorganized and haphazard in any private business ever – including monopoly franchise Utilities!!

    My friends share similar experience with everything Gov’t in PBC. We then recall comparable experiences in Martin County. The lines are nonexistent, people smile, greet you and treat you like, well, er exceuse me, but can I say you are treated like a CUSTOMER!?!

    NOW, the nerve of a County Clerk “warning” the Florida Senate President of anything is quite amusing…reminds me of that old joke “Fxxx you very much…OH, gee did we forget to include PBC in this year’s legislative budget…shame, shame…”

  21. Soupman Says:

    OBIWAN, you like many others who posted comments here believe because the Clerk collects the money that the Clerk then decides what to do with it. The Clerk doesn’t. The Clerk is subject to appropriations like any other state agency. So all those fees being collected do not stay with the Clerk. They go to whatever the legislators decide to do with it. There is no “break-even”. The Clerk has no way to keep excess fees collected when revenue is greater than expenses. The Clerk deals with what the legislature gives. And they are giving even less this year apparently.

    I know, facts get in the way of a good rant, so I let you continue now…

  22. fed up Says:

    Hey ObinWan, if it was SO wonderful in Martin County, why did you come to PBC? and why don’t you go back??

    Comparing Palm Beach County to Martin county is like comparing lemons and honeybells. sure they are both citrus (counties) but they are very different in taste (population). Hello? Do you get it yet???

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