Hillsborough saves $1M by moving probation office

Gloria Gomez reports

- A nearly million dollar burden was lifted from Hillsborough County taxpayers when leaders decided to move the probation office into the courthouse. 

Bryan McClellan was just sentenced to probation after having a domestic dispute with his mother's boyfriend. After leaving the courtroom, McClellan went downstairs to the new probation office, located right next to the clerk's office.

The courthouse is now a one-stop shop for defendants on probation.

"I'm pretty much in and out in 15 minutes," said McClellan. "It's a lot easier. I don't have to wait an hour, an hour and a half... It's about 10 minutes. It's in and out."

Probation officers say the new location makes monitoring clients easier, too. 

For years, the Salvation Army was contracted to handle Hillsborough County probation services. The county was set to sign on with a new company, but Hillsborough County Clerk of Courts Pat Frank saw a problem.

The top bidder was a company that I had read about, had tremendous problems, and they were over charging probationers," Frank said. "I said, 'this is ridiculous, we should be able to do this internally.'"

After going paperless, there was room for a probation office. And one year later, the county has seen nearly a million dollar increase in revenue. Former Tampa Police Chief Steve Hogue runs the office.

"Tax payers shouldn't have to support somebody who's on probation. They should support themselves, but people shouldn't be making money on them, either," said Hogue.

At the end of the day, it's about improving the lives of all Hillsborough County citizens. For his part, McClellan said he isn't proud of his past behavior, but he thinks he's now on the right track.

"It's something to help you get back on your feet, pretty much, to get you out of trouble, not stay in trouble," he said.

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