Gary Behler announced Thursday morning that he will seek re-election to the position of Hamilton County Juvenile Court Clerk.
He said at a press conference on the steps of Juvenile Court:
"In the campaign of 2010, I announced three priorities I would pursue if elected to this position: Greater Fiscal Responsibility, Enhanced Customer Service and Increased Efficiencies through the introduction of New Technologies. I am pleased to report to you that we have met our initial goals and we are working daily to provide continuous quality improvement in each of these areas.
"This has been a great season of change. I am very proud of how hard our staff in the Clerk’s Office has worked to accomplish so much in such a short period of time.
"The operating budget that we have submitted for approval has decreased in each of the past three years. Line item by line item we have identified areas to reduce expenditures. I personally review each purchase requisition to make sure our budget objectives are met. Expenditures for paper have decreased 70% with the introduction of new technologies; postage has decreased 86% by eliminating use of costly certified mail where it is not required by statute. Each year we have been able to manage our operations within the budget approved by the Hamilton County Commission.
"In our annual review by an external independent auditor, we have had zero audit findings for the past three years.
"The emphasis on improving the customer service we deliver to our clients on a daily basis began on Day One. With our first training opportunity we brought in a manager from an industry leader known for excellence in customer service to train our staff on the methods and techniques to follow to ensure that any visitor or client in our office receives optimal service. Our staff will greet you promptly, politely and with a smile-constantly pursuing the goal of providing the best possible service to each individual that enters our office.
"By far, this is perhaps the area with the greatest improvement and impact to date. In 2010, the two offices managed had no internal email for general use. No documents could be handled electronically. Since assuming office we have upgraded computer hardware and software. In partnership with the Court and the Hamilton County IT Department we have developed a Technology Improvement Plan to move this office into the 21st Century. Our offices have been hardwired and are now integrated with the County’s information system. We overhauled an aging client database, converting it into a new and improved data management system. Printing costs were substantially reduced when individual printers were eliminated and desktop computers were networked to upgraded, high volume copy machines. A pilot project for electronic orders was introduced between the Clerk’s Office and the Judge. An electronic court docketing system was developed eliminating 86% of the printed dockets and streamlining the docketing of cases.
"On Aug. 5 of this year we began the scanning of all existing active client files into our upgraded Data Management System. We anticipate completing Phase I by year’s end. In January we will begin Phase 2, scanning all client files from our Child Support Division. Our anticipated completion date for Phase 2 is the second quarter of 2014. When completed, this project will allow our court to be the first fully electronic court in the Hamilton County Court system. The Data Management System will allow both Divisions of the Court to be fully, electronically integrated.
"While we have made great strides in moving this office forward, there is still much to do. In early 2014 we anticipate rolling out the capability of remote video hearings for those incarcerated at the Hamilton County Jail and the CCA-Silverdale Correctional Complex, thus eliminating the need for transfer of those individuals. This will provide a tremendous cost savings to the Sheriff’s Department by reducing staffing and transportation costs while increasing the safety and security of the citizens of Hamilton County.
"Within the coming year we anticipate the introduction of e-filing for attorneys practicing in Juvenile Court. Other initiatives will be announced in the near future.
"As you can tell, it has been a very busy and productive three years. As we often say in the Clerk’s Office, it is indeed a 'Work in Progress.'
"I am pleased with the accomplishments that we have achieved to date and I look forward to the challenge of continuing this momentum. With the help of our staff and the support of the citizens of Hamilton County, we will continue to move this office forward.
"I ask for your support and for your vote in the upcoming election cycle."