Clerk's office has a more balanced budget, Mathes says

By Julie Fann
tar Staff

Because the Circuit Court Clerk's office has struggled recently with debt, John Paul Mathes said that, if he's re-elected, he will work to increase revenue that comes into the office so that there is no cost to the taxpayer. Mathes, who has been Circuit Court Clerk for the past four years, has had to deal with a tight budget and find ways to overcome it.
   When Mathes entered office, the budget lost five percent of $1 million in child support revenue, around $50,000. "I've had to work hard to overcome that to get it (the budget) back up to where my budget, my commissions, and my fees, are equal, and I have got it back to that. We're running right about even with my budget, the fees and commissions," he said.
   Mathes credited one of his staff members for increasing revenue that comes into the Circuit Court Clerk's office. "In criminal court, she goes back to 1995, and if somebody hasn't paid, she sends a summons out, and we get them back in court. She has increased fees by $35,000 since she took over that job," Mathes said.
   Mathes said he has no real role in holding current offenders accountable for paying their fines, and that he would not have a method for improving accountability. "The judges do that," he said. "They re-set a case; they give you 90 days, and if they do not have it (fines) paid they get another re-set date." However, Mathes said it is very important that citizens pay their fines.
   One responsibility of the Circuit Court Clerk is developing a jury panel for criminal court cases. Mathes said he has doubled the jury panel so that jurors who need to take time off for personal reasons can do so. "We've really worked with our jurors, because they're often skeptical about being on a jury," he said.
   As far as his office staff is concerned, Mathes believes the office focuses strongly on teamwork and that, as a result, procedures run smoothly. "We have worked as a team; that's the other thing that I've worked on. We've got the best staff," he said.
   Mathes said he would like to improve technology in the Circuit Court Clerk's office should he be re-elected. He said the current computer system is outdated, and he would like to see it be replaced. He said he also wishes there were more office space for personnel. "With the state budget the way it is, though, I don't know if I'd be able to make those improvements."
   Overall, Mathes believes his past four years in office have been successful. "I feel I've worked hard. We treat people with respect," he said.