- About the Clerk
- 2021 Strategic Update
2021 Strategic Update
Dear Polk Residents:
It is a tremendous honor to serve as your elected Clerk & Comptroller. It is my duty to maintain public records and safeguard county funds. These services are critical to the stability of our county. From court cases to marriage licenses, buying a home or paying a traffic ticket, my office is deeply rooted within the Polk County community, and the interests of its residents are my top priority.
This report details these goals, highlights the actions taken to meet them in 2021, and provides a glimpse into the future as we implement changes that will enhance the customer experience at the Clerk's office.
In 2021 we balanced the continuing challenges brought by COVID-19 with making strides to meet my office's strategic goals. These guiding strategies allowed us to continue adapting to the sudden changes brought by the pandemic while providing reliable service to the judicial system and Polk County community.
As we continue to weather the storm of COVID-19, we are proud of the accomplishments made in 2021 and look towards the future with hope and excitement.
The ways we conduct business are changing in every industry. Technology remains central in our daily lives and plays a key role in my office's strategic goal of convenient, efficient access to our services. We continue to implement the latest technology to make it easier than ever to conduct Clerk business. Polk County residents can expect to find more self-help and online services, resources, and tools to help them navigate the judicial system and county government in the near future.
Thank you for placing your trust in my abilities to uphold the duties and responsibilities laid out in the constitution. I look forward to serving you safely in 2022 and beyond.
Clerk & Comptroller Strategic Goals
Increase access and continue development of a paperless courthouse through technological advancement
Since 2012, the Clerk’s office has consistently made efforts to be a thought leader among clerks state-wide in implementing technology to allow convenient, efficient access to services. Ultimately our goal is to become a fully paperless courthouse, and we're passionate about collaborating with Clerks throughout Florida to harness the latest cutting-edge technology to provide services in the most convenient method possible. Online marriage applications and implementation of QR codes for easy, hands-free access are just a few of the ways we made access to Clerk services easier.
Online Marriage Applications
This new online service enables customers to begin the process of applying for their marriage license, saving them time when visiting the Clerk’s office. Once the application is complete, couples will need to appear in person to complete the process within 90 days. View the app on our marriage page.
QR codes aren't new, but the new ways they can be used are endless. With the arrival of COVID-19, making access to services as low-contact as possible has become crucial to balancing public safety and access to services. QR codes are a simple tool that serve an incredibly useful purpose-- getting the information you need quickly and safely.
By including QR codes at our information desk and in the documents we produce, we've given you access to the services you need while keeping public health a top priority.
Provide public education and awareness through community outreach and engagement
The Clerk’s office continues to increase public knowledge of the Clerk’s role in the community through educational engagement efforts and community outreach.
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Clerk's office quickly embraced technology to continue its engagement with students, the community, and legislative groups and organizations in order to teach them about the Clerk's role in the judicial system, new services, and provide a glimpse into the day-to-day operations of the office. Throughout 2021, the Clerk's office coordinated with local schools and organizations such as Polk Vision Leadership and Leadership Lakeland to encourage members of the community of all ages to get involved in local government and build a bright future for Polk County.
The Clerk's office recognizes the importance of giving back to the community it serves. In 2021, the Clerk's office coordinated and participated in a variety of events to give back to the Polk County community. Employees participated in Thanksgiving Food drives and donated gifts for the residents of the Rohr Home to provide holiday cheer during a difficult time for assisted living facility residents. Additionally, employees signed more than 250 holiday cards to distribute to Rohr Home residents and through Volunteers in Service to the Elderly (VISTE) to show love and support for our elderly neighbors during a particularly difficult and isolating holiday season. We continued our support of the United Way of Central Florida and raised $4,173.47 over the course of 2021.
Operation Green Light
Once a year Clerks throughout the state hold Operation Green Light, a driver's license reinstatement event. At this time, Clerks waive collection fees applied to delinquent court fines, including traffic tickets, providing customers the opportunity to save up to 40 percent on their fines. Once paid, customers are able to proceed with the reinstatement of their driver's license. During the 2021 event, 363 customers paid their cases in full; 440 customers established payment plans; 767 cases were pulled from collection agencies; 47 customers were able to reinstate their driver's license; and an additional 427 customers became eligible for driver's license reinstatement.
Valentine's Day Group Wedding
Every Valentine's Day marks a day of celebration for the couples that participate in the Clerk's Group Valentine's Day Wedding. The event provides a stress-free ceremony and light reception for couples and their guests, and the standard $30 marriage fee is waived by the Clerk as a gift to the couples. Fourteen happy couples tied-the-knot at the eighth annual wedding in 2021.
Each year the Clerk's office opens its doors for a Saturday passport event, giving residents an opportunity to apply for a passport without having to take time off of work to do so. In 2021, our office processed 52 passport applications and took 46 photos during our Saturday passport event.
Continue to deliver exceptional customer service through increased convenience by implementing the latest cutting-edge technology in our services
In an increasingly online world, the Clerk’s office is more dedicated than ever to performing our constitutional and legislative duties required in the most efficient way possible while providing unparalleled customer service online, over the phone, and in-person. The COVID-19 pandemic emphasized the critical role technology plays in providing the public ease-of-access to crucial services offered by the office. In 2021, the Clerk's office enhanced existing online services and prepared to implement new technology in 2022 that expands the self-help options available to Polk residents.
Clerk Butterfield has been appointed by Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady to serve on the newly formed Workgroup on Access to Justice.
The Big Picture:
The Workgroup will pursue projects that “will focus on improvements that can be made within the State Courts System to assist self-represented litigants and support the judicial branch in ensuring effective access to justice for all.”
Accordingly, the Workgroup is directed to:
1. Develop educational materials to assist self-represented litigants in participating in court proceedings that are conducted using remote technology.
2. Identify barriers that prevent electronic filing by self-represented litigants and strategies to reduce or eliminate the barriers.
3. Recommend a plan to advance the use of electronic filing by self-represented litigants.
What it Means:
Polk County residents can expect to see more self-help tools and resources in the near future. Learn more about the function and mission of the workgroup by visiting the Florida Supreme Court website.
Distinguished Best Practices
The Polk County Clerk's office received recognition of excellence awards for best practices in Compliance Services, Confidential Judicial Records, Guardianship Audits, Marriage Licenses, Recording Fundamentals, and Service of Pro Se documents at the Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers summer conference. Our office was one of 40 Clerk offices statewide that participated in the Association's Best Practices Excellence Program.
What it Means:
Polk County residents can rest assured that their Clerk's office works to go above and beyond to ensure that we excel in all areas of our work.
Maintain transparency and accountability in County Government through accurate reporting and safeguarding of public funds
As Polk County Comptroller, the Clerk is responsible for maintaining transparency and accountability in county government through accurate reporting and safeguarding of public funds.
Excellence in Financial Reporting
The Polk County Clerk's office and the Board of County Commissioners together earned the coveted Triple Crown Medallion from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA), the national authority on best practices in governmental accounting and financial reporting.
The newly created award is bestowed on communities that earn all three of GFOA’s awards for the same reporting year. Polk is one of 12 counties in Florida to receive this honor. The three awards include:
- An award for the 2019 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, a recognition that the Clerk’s office has earned for 40 consecutive years. This report is a detailed, spreadsheet-heavy report that contains the financials for the Clerk’s office, the BOCC, and the four other constitutional offices.
- An award for the 2019 Popular Annual Financial Report. This is the 19th consecutive year the Clerk’s office has received this award. This is a condensed summary of the more detailed comprehensive report. While not required, the Clerk’s office produces this report to provide residents with a concise summary of how their county resources are used.
- The Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for the 2019-2020 Budget, an accomplishment that the BOCC has earned since 1990. This report serves as the BOCC’s spending policy, operations guide, financial plan, and communications tool.
The financial reports are available in the Public Funds section of our site.
Inspector General Completes Re-Accreditation
The Clerk’s Department of Inspector General (IG) earned re-accreditation by the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation (CFA) in 2021.
The CFA approved the accreditation during the Commission’s virtual meeting on Feb. 18. To maintain accreditation, the Inspector General must complete the accreditation process every three years, and must comply with 46 standards and undergo rigorous inspections in order to earn re-accreditation. This is the second re-accreditation the Inspector General has earned since its initial accreditation by the CFA in 2015.
Of the 67 county clerks in Florida, the Polk County Clerk Inspector General was the third to become accredited. A total of five Clerk Inspector General Offices across the State of Florida are currently accredited.
What it Means:
The strength of Polk County relies on a healthy government and trust in our elected officials and county operations. The Inspector General's audits and investigations are designed to add value and improve Polk government operations, which means the Polk County community can have trust and confidence in its government.
Learn more about the Inspector General and how you can report suspected fraud, waste, and abuse of county funds or guardianship assets by visiting the Inspector General's webpage.