Clerk's office window hours cut at Sonoma County Superior Court

It's about to get harder to pay traffic tickets or file legal papers in Sonoma County Superior Court.

Starting Jan. 7, the clerk's office will close its windows an hour earlier so employees can work uninterrupted processing documents and handling collections.

The change is expected to result in longer lines for people waiting to pay driving fines, submit eviction notices or file divorce papers at an already reduced number of windows.

"It's going to be a lot worse," said Santa Rosa process server Maynard Buskirk, who has waited up to an hour to get documents stamped in the civil division.

"I don't think it will help that much. But it will be a big burden on us," he said.

Court officials say they had no choice. Continued budget cuts passed down by the state over nearly three years have forced them to leave 50 positions unfilled.

The overall 24 percent reduction in staff has driven up overtime costs and caused paperwork to pile up, said Jose Guillen, the court's executive officer.

Closing the clerk's offices at 3:30 p.m. instead of 4:30 p.m. will help alleviate that, Guillen said.

"We have not been able to keep up with the workload," Guillen said.

Document drop-off boxes in the criminal, civil, traffic, family law and probate divisions will be available for people who arrive after 3:30 p.m.

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