CLINTON — State budget cuts soon will affect the clerk of district court office at the Clinton County Courthouse.

Under a state order, the office will be closed on March 20, April 10, April 24, May 8, May 22, June 5 and June 19. Also, beginning March 24, the office will close to the public at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This will continue until further notice of the court.

The closings are a result of an order issued by the Iowa Supreme Court that requires all court offices, including clerk of district court offices and the office of the clerk of the supreme court, to be closed for seven days before the end of the current fiscal year on June 30. The move is in anticipation of a $3.8 million reduction in the Fiscal Year 2009 Iowa Judicial Branch operating budget. The closures are in addition to the Feb. 16 closure required in an earlier supervisory order.

With the order, all court staff will take unpaid leave. One day of unpaid leave for all judicial employees except judges and magistrates (1,600 people) reduces expenditures by $335,009. Judges and magistrates are not subject to the unpaid leave order because the legislature sets their salaries and the supreme court lacks the statutory authority to change these salaries, according to a press release on the state’s judicial Web site. On days the court offices are closed, judges and magistrates will work in their chambers to maintain a minimal level of access to the courts.

The order also reduces the public hours of all offices of the clerk of district court. Clerks’ offices will be closed to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:30 p.m. to closing.

“While this change in our customary public business hours is an unwelcome reduction in public access to the courts, it is necessary to help minimize other problems that will result from court closure days,” State Court Administrator David Boyd said. “By providing the clerk of district court offices with some uninterrupted work time each week, we hope to maintain productivity and thereby minimize delays in case processing.”

Local court officials are encouraging people to pay fines online at www.iowacourts.gov or by putting the money in the dropbox located in the courthouse parking lot.

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