Orlando: Budget cuts force changes at Orange County Clerk’s Office

First Palm Beach and now Orange County….. expect similar changes in Miami-Dade!!

The Orange County Clerk’s Office will close its doors an hour early, reduce its Call Center hours by more than half, eliminate 20 vacant positions and offer early retirement to eligible employees in the face of a 7 percent budget cut that takes effect on July 1.

The Legislature has slashed clerks’ budgets statewide by $31 million. The cost to the Orange County Clerk of Court amounts to $1.9 million. The goal in addressing the budget crisis was to minimize the impact on customers and avoid layoffs. We will continue to evaluate roles and responsibilities within the organization to ensure that we are operating as efficiently as possible.

The Clerk’s Office will begin closing its doors to the public at 4 p.m., beginning Monday, July 2. On the same day, the Call Center will begin operating from 8:30 to 12:30.

The deputy clerks will use the extra hour at the end of the day to deal with the inevitable backlog created by the elimination of 20 vacant positions and the potential loss of some employees to the Voluntary Early Retirement Opportunity Program. Closing early will also eliminate the overtime needed to help close out and audit cash receipts.

Thirty-two employees have been offered participation in the Voluntary Early Retirement Opportunity Program. It is up to the employees whether they choose to take advantage of the opportunity.

While acknowledging the concern for customer convenience, Gardner said her 11 years in office have been focused on enabling customers to transact business from home, office or at a convenient Amscot or Western Union payment center.

Gardner encourages customers to take advantage of her organization’s efficiencies:

Myorangeclerk.com – the recently upgraded website has complete information about how to do business with the Clerk’s Office. You can pay a traffic ticket, get court case updates and download forms, among many other things.

Electronic Case Filing: More than 10,000 attorneys and pro se litigants already take advantage of ECF, which allows them to work on their cases 24/7 wherever they have Internet access.

Traffic tickets and court fines can also be paid at any Amscot location or through Western Union.

The legislature has reduced Clerks’ budgets every year since 2009, when the cut was a devastating 17 percent. Since then, the Orange County Clerks’ budget has gone from $35.2 million to a 2013 budget of $27.5 million. During that time, caseloads have remained relatively stable and, in fact, the office is looking at an increase in foreclosure cases, the most labor-intensive.

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