County approves office positions

The Clerk of District Court’s office will add two more positions to help with the number of cases it is receiving.

Donna Lee Bobak approached the Sweetwater County Commissioners about three personnel requests at the last meeting. The first was a simple request to fill a position left open after someone left the office. A motion was made and unanimously approved by the commissioners.

The second request was to add a another position so the Clerk of District Court’s office would be back up to a total of eight employees, which is where is had been prior to an employee taking the voluntary separation plan the county offered employees two years ago, Bobak said in a telephone interview.

Prior to two years ago, that office had always ran on eight employees.

“We’ve been understaffed for a long time and we’ve just tried to absorb it,” Bobak said on the phone.

According to a letter Bobak submitted to the commissioners, “After researching statistics from comparable counties and doing a man-hour time study in my office, it is apparent that we are significantly understaffed.”

In a presentation to the commissioners, Bobak pointed out that the man-hour study was conducted over a 34-day period in February and March.

This study indicated that the clerks logged a total of 2,713 hours. Of these hours logged, the clerks spent 1,401 hours on civil cases, 512.5 on criminal cases, 2,890 hours answering phones, 280 hours on juvenile cases and 229.2 hours on administrative work.

Bobak compared Sweetwater County with Campbell and Fremont counties because they were similar in caseload totals. In 2018, Sweetwater County had 1,543 cases, while Campbell County had 1,708 and Fremont 872.

Campbell has 11 full-time clerks, one part-time clerk and they are in the process of requesting another, while Fremont had six and is in the process of requesting more.

Based on this information, it was determined that 10 employees were needed in this department.

However, Bobak said her third request is only for one additional person, which would take the total amount to nine, which she believed would allow the department to keep up.

“I was pretty much aware we were short already and I needed to prove it to the commissioners,” she said on the phone.

Bobak said her department is struggling to keep up with the caseloads and in an effort to try they are paying overtime.

“They weren’t getting them (the judges) the documents they needed in a timely fashion,” Bobak said.

At the commissioners meeting, Bobak presented them with her information. After going through the information, Bobak said,

She said she’s been receiving complaints from attorneys and judges because her office can’t keep up.

“I feel like I can’t provide efficient service to the county,” Bobak said.

“I see what the effect of her being understaffed is,” Third District Court Judge Nena James said. “They’re struggling and because of that, we are too.”

She said they will spend time with the public helping them file for their own divorces, which they should, but then they can’t get to the files.

“I’m not faulting them, they just don’t have the staff to do it,” Judge James said.

Bobak said she would need both the eight and ninth positions to alleviate the overtime. Chairman Wally Johnson said he would like to see the department increase to eight positions and see how that worked out. He said they could always add another position if the department continued to struggle. A motion was made to approve both positions, the motion was approved in a 3-1 vote, with Johnson voting against.


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