Clerks in the Sunshine: Clerk Budgets, Audits and Performance Measures
| As your Chief
Financial Officer for the County, it is important for us to demonstrate our commitment to accountability and transparency.
When I ran the first time for office in 2000, I made several campaign promises to you. After taking office, one of my first actions was to
record those promises on this website and I asked that you hold me accountable for them. I believe they speak directly to the accountability
you should expect in your public officials. I realize that the dollars we spend are your dollars, and we need to be ever diligent to make sure
that every dollar we spend is necessary and efficiently used.
I’ve tried to live up to the standards I set for our office. In the eight and a half years since taking office we have significantly increased services we deliver, dealt with a heavier work load both in our courts and accounting offices, and we accomplished this with fewer employees. Today, our staffing level is approximately 20% below FY2000 levels. We’ve done that through process improvements, better use of technology and better trained personnel.
This past Legislative session, Clerks’ budgets across the state were cut on average 18%. Since 90% of our budget is for personnel expenses, this cut has forced us to make more dramatic reductions in personnel than we had planned and we are currently furloughing (reducing the pay) of all personnel. The current financial environment will test and strain our ability to continue to deliver quality and timely services. I can assure you that our personnel are committed to delivering you the highest level of customer service and we are up to the challenge before us.
I am proud of our performance. I am very fortunate to have a great team of employees behind me who make me look good. We believe the more you know about us, the more you appreciate the value you get in our office. We have attached information that will assist you to make an evaluation of our performance. We encourage your review and inspection of our records. Please call if you have any questions or would like additional information.
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 (BCC or County) and the Supervisor of Elections but does not include the other Constitutional Officers in county government, including the Sheriff, Tax Collector, and Property Appraiser. In order to maximize overall efficiency, the Clerk uses the same employees to provide services for the BCC and the Clerk’s Office. The County and the Clerk entered into an Interlocal Agreement five years ago, whereby the County agreed to a specified service and funding level and in each subsequent year, the County would increase the funding for operating costs, salaries and benefits by the same amount appropriated for Board employees. There have been no new employees added to the financial function in the intervening five years. The Interlocal Agreement can be cancelled by either the County or the Clerk by giving prior notification. Those costs for financial operations not paid by the County are allocated to other budget areas, including Official Records and the court functions. 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, shared technology and other capital expenditures. 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 (Visit the CCOC website at www.flccoc.org). Court related services are funded from a portion of the court fines and fees the clerk collects. During the 2009 Legislative session, the clerk’s budgets were capped statewide and, beginning in 2010, clerk court-related budgets will be part of the state 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 captured and 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.
Please select one of the following to view.
The Clerk is a separate Constitutional Office and as is required to have expenditures, revenues and operations audited. The Clerk is subject to multiple audits and those are listed and discussed below:
Annual Audit: The County Commission contracts with an independent accounting firm to perform an audit of the functions and financial activities of the Board and each of the five Constitutional Offices. Each of these entities is independently audited and subject to materiality based upon their own expenditure levels. The audits of the five Constitutional Officers along with the Board are then combined into a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). This is submitted to the Board and widely distributed to provide citizens, investors and other interested parties an overview of the financial health and fiscal activities of the entire county government. Copies can be viewed in our office or online.
Department of Financial Services: Beginning in 2004, the Florida Department of Financial Services (DFS) was charged by statue with the responsibility for auditing each Clerk’s court-related expenditures to insure that the budgets are in compliance with state statutes and used solely for court-related activities. DFS periodically audits every Clerk and provides written reports.
Internal Audits: The Clerk has an internal audit staff that audits Clerk and Board operations. Internal audits are provided to management for corrective action as needed and are followed up upon by the internal audit staff. The Board of County Commissioners and the Clerk appoint an Audit Committee made up of five citizens with background and experience in auditing. Their role is to assist in establishing the audit work program and review the scope and quality of work performed by the internal audit staff. The committee meets quarterly or more frequently if needed.
Auditor General: In Florida, the Auditor General (AG) is a constitutional officer appointed by the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee. His appointment is confirmed by both houses of the Legislature. The AG conducts financial audits of the accounts and records of State agencies; and, as directed by the Legislative Auditing Committee, of local governments including Clerks of Court and the Clerk of Court Operations Corporation (CCOC). The AG adopts rules for financial audits performed by independent certified public accountants of local governmental entities, including Clerks, and reviews all audit reports of local governmental entities, pursuant to Section 218.39, Florida Statutes. All AG audits can be seen on their website at www.myflorida.com/audgen/.
Child Support Audits: Child support services in Florida and other states are provided through Federal grants and controlled by the provisions of OMB Circular A-87. The Florida Department of Revenue (www.myflorida.com/dor/childsupport/) administers the grant program, and contracts with independent certified public accountants to provide an annual audit of the expenditure of grant funds and the operations of the Clerks in regard to child support enforcement. In addition, periodic inspection and oversight is provided by the Office of Child Support Enforcement of the US Department of Health and Human Services (www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cse/).
Please select one of the following for more information.
Independent Auditors Report 9_2005
Auditor General Report 3-114
The Clerk of Court Operations Corporation (CCOC) was created in 2004 by the Florida Legislature. Included in the bill creating the CCOC was a requirement to create and monitor performance measures. Over the five years since the creation of the CCOC a number of performance measures have been implemented to measure those court related activities for which Clerks are responsible. For each of these measures a standard was established. Clerks are required to both self report and, to the extent that performance falls below the standard set by the CCOC, the Clerk must provide the actions that will be taken to bring the performance to or above standards.
Timeliness of Case Creation: The percentage of cases created within X business days from the time the case was clocked in.
Timeliness of Docket Entry: The percentage of docket entries created within X business days from the time clocked in/action taken date.
Collection Rate of Fines, Fees and Costs: Actual percentage of Fines, Fees, and Costs collected during 5 business quarters from the time assessed.
Performance measures for non court-related functions have not been established. While not required by law, Clerks statewide have discussed developing performance measures for their non court-related functions. As those performance measures are developed and standards established, we will be reporting on them as well.
Please select one of the following to view.
FY11-12 Performance Measures
FY10-11 Performance Measures
FY09-10 Performance Measures
FY08-09 Performance Measures
FY07-08 Performance Measures
FY06-07 Performance Measures
FY05-06 Performance Measures