LARGO — Faced with cutting millions from his budget, Pinellas County Sheriff Jim Coats announced Thursday that come July, his agency will no longer serve civil process notices not required by state law.
The Sheriff's Office will save about $2 million a year by disbanding its court processing unit of 22 employees, according to a statement released by the agency.
By statute, deputies must serve all civil court notices issued by government agencies, including levies, repossessions, evictions, domestic violence injunctions, Marchman and Baker acts and child custody pickup.
The Sheriff's Office will continue to provide those services. But it will no longer offer civil process serving that does not require a deputy, including civil summons/subpoenas, summons for claim of possession and three-day notices to vacate.
Those court documents are often served by private civil process servers, but the service has long been offered by the Sheriff's Office.
Disbanding the unit will eliminate positions currently filled by 17 deputies and five clerks. Some of the positions are already vacant and will not be filled, the Sheriff's Office says.
The remaining employees will be transferred to essential positions, primarily in the areas of law enforcement and corrections.
The Sheriff's Office will not accept nonenforceable civil process past July 2.
A list of private process servers can be found at each of the clerk of the court offices in Pinellas County and is posted on the Sheriff's Office website at pcsoweb.com. The list will be updated monthly.
After projections showed Pinellas could be facing an $80 million shortfall over the next two years, the County Commission asked Coats to cut $30 million from the Sheriff's Office budget for fiscal year 2011.
But Coats has proposed cutting $20.1 million from the 2011 budget, with additional cuts to come the following year.