Weatherford Democrat

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August 21, 2012

Court looks at adding JP 4 clerk

WEATHERFORD —  

Parker County commissioners listened, but took no action Monday to approve or deny a request from Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Lynn Johnson for a full-time clerk.

Johnson’s department is the only county department to request another employee this budget year, according to County Judge Mark Riley.

Johnson told the court that the extra position is needed because a lot more tickets are filed in her court than in the other JP courts, as checked on three separate occasions since she was hired.

She said dealing with the tickets is time-consuming.

“With each ticket you’ve got at least three or four contacts with the person, and that’s for about 50 percent of the tickets,” she said. ”With the others you may have eight or nine contacts with that particular defendant.”

Johnson said her four clerks are not able to fulfill their state-mandated functions — like having trials — due to the  overwhelming workload.

“They aren’t fulfilling their judicial responsibilities,” she said. “It’s like they’ve added 100 more miles of road to your precinct, and you have to do it with the same number of employees.”

Johnson also said her collections clerk was battling an illness and would need some time off.

Johnson’s office filed an average of 300 tickets per month in 2010, she said, but is now filing an average of 538 per month based on numbers recorded from January through July.

The associated average monthly revenue, she said, has also increased — from about $35,000 to almost $70,000.

“We’ve had double our cases, double our revenues, so hopefully, we’re doing some things right,” she said.

A basic clerk earns a $34,739 salary, Johnson told the court.

Riley estimated the county’s total cost between $50,000 to $55,000, including benefits.

“In my mind the only way this can be done is if we felt like her revenue had increased enough to pay for it, over and above what we’ve budgeted,” he said, “and I don’t have that number right in front of me.” 

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