Court Clerk Addresses Town Council Regarding Courthouse Expansion
Gary Clemens shared his views and opinions regarding the downtown court system last Tuesday and said more space is needed for smoother operations.
Between the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors and the Leesburg Town Council, there has been quite a bit of conversation regarding the downtown courts system. Within the last few years, its limited size has become an issue and both governing bodies, as well as town and county staff, are trying to find a solution to the problem.
Last Tuesday, Court Clerk Gary Clemens addressed the council and said that he hopes they work closely with the board of supervisors in order to find a better answer. A number of challenges have been created at the facility, he said. The caseload has grown, office space is limited and customer service could be better.
“In my perspective it’s not so much what I need it’s what we all need to do to better serve our citizens,” Clemens told Leesburg Patch. “I think our citizens need a better configuration, a better courts complex as a whole, because they’re the ones that ultimately pay the price not having the best facility.”
Clemens said that the current building does not provide a good, fluid system for those who visit the location. Due to limited space, the county has had to lease an off site record center for the past seven years, he said, which creates a challenge for customer service.
“We don’t have enough people to staff the facility,” Clemens said. “Once a week we have to send staff out to pull files and bring files back. Which requires clients, customers, citizens, attorneys, judges, etc. to have a wait almost a full week until that file is available.”
A number of files are also being maintained in the courthouse basement, he said, making it very inefficient for staff. Departments have also had to move to other buildings within the town in order to have more room.
A bigger issue, Clemens said, is the configuration of the building and an increase of security.
“What has changed in the past 12 years, that I don’t think anyone anticipated back in the 1990s, when they were planning this building, is the presence of security,” he said. As the county grows, so does the need for staff.
“It’s just not a good arrangement,” Clemens said. “We have the opportunity now, with this new courts expansion, to carefully analyze the work load trends and the growth trends and make courts expansion project much more effective and efficient for our citizens and for our consumers.”
Until then, Clemens said he plans to stay involved in discussions related to the expansion project while relying on county staff. The county’s Finance, Government Services & Operations Committee will hold a meeting on Monday, Oct. 22 where they will further discuss the project.
“I would just hope that [the town council] will work very closely with their fellow elected officials down the street, the board of supervisors, and that each elected body would empower the staff that they trust to work on these issues and find a good solution,” Clemens said. “Working together, we can provide the level of services that our citizens expect and deserve.”