The Florida Constitution charges the Clerk of Courts with multiple responsibilities. These responsibilities include being the Clerk to the Circuit and County Courts, Clerk to the Board of County Commissioners, County Auditor, Recorder of Official Records, and County Finance Officer. Over time, the funding sources and budgetary approval process for these different responsibilities have evolved and in many cases become specific to the functional responsibility. Therefore, portions of the Clerk's budget have different revenue sources, different expenditure rules and different approval authorities.
Funding the Office of Clerk of Courts
Financial Services: The Clerk has responsibility for the financial operations both for the county government and the court activities. For county government, this responsibility includes the Board of County Commissioners but does not include the other Constitutional Officers in county government, including the Sheriff, Tax Collector, Property Appraiser, and Supervisor of Elections. In order to maximize overall efficiency, the Clerk uses some of the same employees to provide services for the Board of County Commissioners and the Clerk's Office. The Internal Auditing function is included in the Finance budget, although Internal Audit is not operationally assigned to Finance. The Clerk has approval authority for this budget.
Official Records and Administration: The Clerk collects recording fees that fund this operation. In addition to the recording of official records, centralized administrative functions including human resources, purchasing, mail and general management are provided by Administration. In addition, specialized services such as archives and central filing are housed in Administration. Unspent recording revenues are returned to the County. The Clerk has approval authority for this budget.
Court Services: Following a 2004 Constitutional Amendment approved by Florida voters, the Florida Legislature assumed responsibility for funding the budget for the clerk's court-related services. This funding was accomplished completely through fees and service charges for court users. Prior to this time, court services provided by the clerk were a county-funded responsibility and were only partially funded by fees and service charges. After 2004 the County retained the responsibility for funding some court-related costs including facilities, communications, and shared technology. The Legislature also created the Clerks of Court Operations Corporation (CCOC) to assist clerks in the development of their budget and to approve those budgets within statutory guidelines. Court related services are funded from a portion of the court fines and fees the clerk collects. During the 2009 Legislative session, the clerks' budgets were capped statewide, and beginning July 1, 2009, clerk court-related budgets are a part of the appropriation process.
Child Support: Clerks are responsible for assisting in collecting court-ordered child support payments. The Clerk has entered into a contract whereby the Federal government reimburses the Clerk for the cost incurred in providing this service. These services are provided by employees in the Courts Department and their time is capturedand not included in our court related budget.
Technology: The Clerk is responsible for his own technology, except for shared systems funded by the County per Florida Statutes. Florida law provides a fee per page for documents recorded in Official Records to fund both the software and hardware technology costs, which is placed in a trust fund. The Clerk has approval authority for this budget subject to the available dollars in the trust fund.
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