The County Commission's recent adoption of the fiscal 2015 county budget marked the 15th straight year in which Criminal Court Clerk Gwen Tidwell continued her record as the first such clerk in Hamilton County history to fully fund the office's salaries with revenue from fees and fines instead of appropriated tax dollars, her campaign staff said.
The statement said, "That effective administration has resulted in significant savings for the public."
In fiscal years 1995 through 2000, "the office received an average annual appropriation of more than $420,000," Ms. Tidwell stated. Since 2000, however, "not a single tax dollar has been used to pay salaries in the office," she said.
Using that $420,000 average for the last 15 years, Ms. Tidwell said she has saved Hamilton County taxpayers more than $6.3 million, "making those dollars available for other county responsibilities, including public schools and public safety. That in turn has helped the County Commission avoid unnecessary property tax increases."
Those savings "did not occur in a vacuum," Ms. Tidwell said. "The modernization of the office, thus making it a more professional operation, has been helped by the dedicated work of the office's fine staff.
"But I've also made the office more efficient by putting Criminal Court records on-line -- and thus easily available to the public as well as defense attorneys and prosecutors," Tidwell added. Further, "we've made it possible for fines and fees to be paid by credit cards. We began that service for in-office payments several years ago. And thanks to the County Commission's vote earlier this year, that service has been expanded to include on-line payments.
"By making the Criminal Court Clerk's office more professional -- and thus more responsive to the public -- I have emphasized the importance of its efficient management.
"Hamilton County citizens understandably insist on an effective criminal justice system, TThe professional, non-political operation of the office plays a key role in meeting that obligation."