March 14, 2019
By: Dwayne Page
Circuit Court Clerk Susan Martin needs more help and office space.
During a budget committee meeting of the county commission Wednesday night, Martin made a formal request for an additional deputy clerk. She currently has three clerks working for her.
“I did a two week span of what our office does as far as customers and on average in those two weeks, we collected over $4,200 a day. We also averaged 88 calls a day and saw approximately 52 customers per day,” said Martin.
“With three clerks in the office, sometimes that is hard because on top of just those daily customers, we have as many as three courts going on at the same time which requires three of the four of us being out of the office. If it’s a circuit/criminal court day, there are always two clerks in the courtroom, which is me and another girl and three times, since I have been in office, I have had to close my office doors because we have had multiple courts going on at the same time. In one incident, one of my deputy clerks had to be out one day and we had three courts going on so we had to shut everything down. When I shut everything down there is no money coming in to the office unless they are paying online. I definitely feel a need for a new clerk in my office and along with that is going to come office space,” said Martin.
The circuit court clerk’s office is located on the third floor of the courthouse and Martin has a personal office she works out of across the hall from the main office where her deputy clerks work.
Martin told the committee that she would like more space, possibly in the middle section of the second floor of the courthouse, where she and her employees could all work out of the same office.
“My office is running over with files and we currently house files on all three floors in the courthouse,” she said.
The state will soon be requiring electronic filing of some court documents which will also create a space problem.
“Tennessee will soon be mandating e-filing which means if you are a pro se attorney and you come in to my office with a piece of paper and say I want to file a divorce, we’re going to say you can’t do that. You will have to sit down at a computer, swipe a credit card, and pay a fee and scan it yourself manually. It’s coming this year. That will require us to have a desk , computer, and chair for them and there is no where to put that in my office,” said Martin.
There is also a security issue
“I am across the hallway from my girls. This past week I had a lady in there yelling. I had to come in behind her which is never a good scenario to walk up behind somebody who is not happy. A majority of the time when somebody comes into our office, they are not there because they like being there. They’ve got a ticket, their kids are being removed , they’re getting a divorce. There’s just many different things. It’s not always that they are thrilled to see us but we try to make the best of it with them. My girls have done a very good job of always being very personable and polite to them,” Martin continued.
Budget committee chairman Dennis Slager informed Martin that her request for more space would have to be addressed by another committee
Although she has been in office just over six months, Martin said she has already done much to update the office with new technology.
“We have accomplished many things in a short time including adding scanners. We are scanning the minute books and everything which puts a copy to the state and a copy on the hard drive and we have a copy as well. We now have a website which allows our users to make payments online and that has been very successful. We are starting to collect a lot more fees that way. In fact we have a lot of citizens who come through from other counties who get on there and they are more than happy to pay their ticket that way. We have seen an increase in that,” said Martin.
According to the wage scale for county general employees, a new worker with one year of service is paid $26,786.
The budget committee took no action on Martin’s request Wednesday night but will consider it when finalizing the 2019-20 spending plan to send to the county commission.