Tell us about you and how you ended up, just being Paula S.
O'Neil, now being the Honorable Doctor S. O'Neil, elected
official in Pasco County? Tell us a little bit of your
I worked for Pasco County, I moved here in Pasco County in
1987 and I worked for the County for 15 years and then was
called by the former clerk and ask if want to work for the
clerk, so I worked for him for 6 years so total of 25 years
as clerk with county experience, and then when the former
clerk decided not to run, I decided to run.
And was elected in 2008 assumed office in 2009.
In fact 2008 is when I, was right before I opened up my own
practice, so for all intent purposes, you're the only clerk
But your time so far as being the clerk is been successful
but yet challenging. Is that the fair way to put it?
Yes, we have a lot of budget challenges for sure.
I have over the course of writing my articles for
I wrote an article about the cuts and judiciary and the need
for additional judges and I've noticed recently that the
time for processing court cases the judges are telling us
that the resources are not there, the numbers of clerk
available has decrease substantially, there is not resources
to bring in, additional judges. Can you talk us about what
you have experience as far as budget cuts since you have
been on office?
Yes. Well, we have cut over a hundred employees, so that
really affected our availability for court time, most
recently because of the latest cut, we have to cut our
hours. So our office hours for court related business is now
9 to 4, where before it was 8:30 to 5. And that is because
we have to cut 25 employees most recently, we don't the
staff and the back to deal with the paper works, so the same
person that's waits on you at the counter is dealing with
the paperwork before and after the windows open.
You know the most interesting sign that I see when I go up
to file something or to get a domestic violence conjunction
filed or assist somebody in getting something sworn under
oath, there's a sign that talks about the increase in filing
fees, filing cost, attorneys calls it them cost, compared to
attorneys fees and then specifically it says that this
increase cost don't necessarily benefits your office
No, in former years the clerks were able to divide up the
money as it came in and then send the excess to the state,
at this time we are allocated a budget , and so it does not
matter how many cases we have, we're given a certain amount
and we have to live with that amount. My budget was cut four
million dollars($4,000,000.00) since I've taken office from
sixteen(16) to twelve(12) million dollars, that's a huge
change . When filing have increases and mandate have
increase, so not only do we have bigger case load, we also
have more requirements for indingency and other issues that
come in, where the clerk actually go through other documents
to prepare before it actually goes and appear on the
And as the elected official to over see this process, what
have you done to meet this challenges that you have been
faced as a clerk?