Budget cuts force clerk’s office to reduce hours

Published 11:00 pm Friday, August 12, 2011

The Alabama judicial system is operating is crisis mode and that means that changes must be made in the Pike County Circuit Clerk office in order to continue operation under those conditions.

Pike County Circuit Clerk Jamie Scarbrough said, that according to a manpower study, the caseload for her office calls for nine employees.

“I’m currently staffed at six and, effective at the close of business on Aug, 31, I will lose two employees, which will leave me with four. I will retain one employee with the Clerk’s Fund, which will only be for a short time.”

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Scarbrough said that, after losing much sleep and consulting with other circuit clerks, her employees, the presiding judge, district attorney, and the bar association president, she has made the decision that it will be necessary to close the circuit clerk’s doors to the public during specified hours.

“Effective September 1, we will close each afternoon at 4 p.m. and at noon Wednesdays,” Scarbrough said. “During those hours, phone calls will not be answered. However, if I see that we don’t need that much time to work behind closed doors, I will make adjustments.

“We will still be available for law enforcement to process warrants, as well as any emergency situation that may arise.”

Scarbrough said that she is currently in the process of securing a drop box for any filings or payments that need to be filed.

“This box will be checked daily, so paperwork will be filed that day,” Scarbrough said that she does ask that those who are you are filing cases, to please secure the filings in a large envelope to prevent them from getting separated.”

The back hallway door to the circuit clerk’s office will be open for access in the event of an emergency and for court personnel. Wednesday courts will continue.

“This has been a very hard decision for me to make and I have not taken it lightly,” Scarbrough said. “I have dreaded this day and now we are upon it. I’m not sure what the special session may hold, nor if we will get any relief.

“Right now, we are all working long hours just to try to keep up. The employees in my office have been voluntarily staying late and coming in early, with no compensation and no complaints. I have not asked them to do this and I can’t continue to allow them to do this.”

Scarbrough said the employees have children, and some have grandchildren and it has become a situation where they are at the office more than at home. “It’s exhausting,” Scarbrough said. “My primary objective is to serve the people of Pike County to the best of my ability. If paperwork continues to become stacked, we are of no service to anyone. I hope that this is temporary.”