Commissioners Approve Additional Staffing for Clerk of District Court Office

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SWEETWATER COUNTY– In a 3-1 vote, the Sweetwater County Commissioners approved to add two additional positions to the Clerk of District Court’s office.

Chairman Wally Johnson voted against the addition of two additional positions, while Commissioners Randy Wendling, Jeff Smith, and Roy Lloyd voted in favor.

Johnson expressed his support for adding one position and then coming back in six months to see if another person was still needed. Donnalee Bobak, Clerk of District Court, said she would be thankful for any additional staffing, but her request for two additional clerks would allow them to work the most adequately.

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In addition to the two additional positions, Bobak also requested approval to refill a recently vacated position, which the commissioners unanimously approved.

No Increase in Staff in Over 20 Years

Bobak said that when she first entered office in 2011, she did not re-staff a vacant position, and then two years later, she did not restaff a position after an employee left as part of the early retirement program.

“The Clerk of District Court’s office is now serving two judges with no increase in staff in over 20 years,along with workload and clerk responsibilities that have substantially increased,” Bobak wrote in her request letter.

She said that despite their attempts to resolve the overwhelming workload, “it has become obvious that we are unable to provide efficient service.”

“Helping her Helps Us”

Bobak said that because they are understaffed, the clerk’s office is receiving complaints from the district court judges as well as from attorneys about not getting documents in a timely manner.

Judge Nena James, Sweetwater County Third District Court, made an appearance at the meeting to express her support for the additional staffing. Judge James explained that because the clerk’s office is struggling with large workloads and not enough staff, the courts see the affects of that.

“She needs help,” Judge James said of Bobak. “And helping her helps us.”

Seven Clerks Average 11.4 Hours Per Day

Bobak provided a time study that she conducted for 34 days from February to March, in which she logged 2,712 total hours worked by her clerks.

She broke down five categories in which her clerks work, and how many hours they work in each category.

  • Civil: 1,401 hours
  • Criminal: 512.5 hours
  • Juvenile: 280 hours
  • Administration: 229.2 hours
  • Phones: 289 hours

Bobak said that considering an eight-hour work day, 10 clerks would be required to complete the same amount of work without overtime.

The seven clerks have been averaging 11.4 hours of work per day.