Circuit clerk office gets budget cuts

Published 4:00 am Thursday, April 30, 2015

Pike County Circuit Clerk Jamie Scarborough fears state budget shortfalls may prompt additional personnel cuts in her already understaffed office and force the office to reduce the hours it is open to the public.

Scarbrough said she received a call nearly two weeks ago alerting her to the likelihood that her staffing would be further reduced.“Since then, I’ve done a lot of thinking,” Scarborough said. “I’ve done a lot of thinking of ‘what does this mean for us?’ We’re already having to prioritize. There are some clerks that are three months behind (on work) already. When you’re talking about myself and two employees doing the work of nine (employees) there are major downfalls,” Scarbrough said.The Circuit Clerk’s Office is responsible for nine divisions within the one office and is responsible for maintaining and keeping all filings available and accessible to the five judges within Pike County who rotate in the three courtrooms located in the Pike County Courthouse. Scarborough said that with the cuts, it would be likely that the Circuit Clerk’s Office would have to close to the public three days a week in order to fairly and accurately maintain the files they are responsible for within their office.

“Judge (Shannon) Clark, as my presiding judge, said she would have to close us to the pubic two to three days a week,” Scarborough said. “That’s the only way we can keep up with our work. When you start prioritizing there are things that go to the back burner … We’re going to have limited court dates. We’re going to have to put things further out into the future because we can’t process things at one month anymore.”

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In 2011, Circuit Clerk’s offices statewide were impacted by layoffs of long-time employees, but the Pike County office went from operating at 72 percent with seven employees to just four employees working at 45 percent, which caused the clerk’s office to go through a major overhaul of the way items, tasks and cases were prioritized, Scarbrough said. With the new budget cuts and layoffs, Scarborough said the priority list for the clerk’s office would again be changing and she feared for the integrity of not only the office but the court system as well as she felt constitutional rights would be violated inadvertently through the cuts.

“The end result will require that this office go through extreme prioritizing, just as we do in our homes when budgeting, in private businesses and any major corporation in preparing for this upcoming fiscal year,” Scarborough said. “We will make the best of this situation and will continue to work in a manner pleasing to the people of this county. I have no control over the budget of the state and I have no control over the layoffs, but I was elected to maintain this office, uphold the constitution of this state and the constitutional rights of this plaintiffs, defendants and victims.”

Scarborough said through her 20 years of being in the court system, she had learned and grown to understand the true importance of her office and the work it does and that was to the people of Pike County.

“As your circuit clerk for the past five years, my staff and I have sought every avenue and resource in which to operate in a manner that is accountable and productive as public employees.

“My employees have remained dedicated to the clerk’s office, even when other state agencies received pay increases. They have volunteered additional hours, with no compensation, because they respect the integrity of the courts. This office is what it is because of the loyalty to their job and understanding of its importance to each person who walks through our doors.”