All current court-related revenue being collected should be reevaluated to determine what portion of current filing fee revenue should be dedicated to court funding.
In addition to the filing fee revenue being directed into the State’s general revenue fund, a substantial portion is being held by court clerks to pay for the court record keeping functions performed by the clerks. Pursuant to Article V, section 14(b), of the state constitution, the offices of the clerks of court are funded through filing fees, fines, service charges, and court costs. However, the clerks’ budgets are not appropriated by the Legislature, but are instead overseen by a corporation created in section 28.35, Florida Statutes – The Florida Clerk of Court Operations Corporation – that reviews and certifies clerks’ budgets as prescribed by law. All trial court clerks are members of the corporation whose functions are carried out by an executive council comprised of eight clerks of court elected by the member clerks of court. For those clerks who project the revenue within their county will be insufficient to fund their court-related activities, the statutory process established for the certification of the clerks’ budgets provides for the shortfall to be funded from revenue “surpluses” from other counties. Further, the maximum budget amounts authorized for the clerks’ court-related activities are a function of the total amount of revenue anticipated in a given fiscal year. (See s. 28.36, Fla. Stat.)
The Legislature should review the current distribution of filing fees to determine whether additional filing fee revenue currently distributed to the State’s general revenue and to support clerks should be shifted to support court operations.