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1 State Courts System Administration and Clerk of Circuit Court Related Functions House Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Committee March 12, 2009
Funding the State Courts System and Funding County Clerks: Contrasts and Comparisons
“"I think the state of the state is we need to be concerned…. [W]e need to be… braced for some perhaps unpopular decisions…. I think as we move forward. . . folks will understand. The better thing to do is ask what do you think of the state the taxpayer is in. " House Speaker Larry Cretul
Seven Principles for Stabilizing Court Funding • The state court system developed a plan encompassing seven basic principles to address both the immediate economic crisis as well as long -term, sustainable funding stability for the unified state courts system • Principle Five: Additional or increased filing fees should be considered, but only after an adequate review of the distribution of the current filing fee revenue has been made
Contrasts and Comparisons • Courts are funded from state funds, and so are clerks for their court-related functions • Clerks are funded entirely from court-related revenue, as set forth in the state constitution • State constitution allows for courts to be partially funded from court-related revenues • The clerks’ budget process established in Chapter 28 is not required in the constitution
Contrasts and Comparisons • Courts have budgets appropriated by the Legislature and administered under Chapter 216, Fla. Stat. • Clerks’ budgets are not appropriated by the Legislature and are administered under Chapter 28, Fla. Stat.
Contrasts and Comparisons Chapter 216 – Court Statutory Budget Controls Chapter 28 – Clerk Statutory Budget Controls • Courts submit budgets to Legislature based on analysis of judicial need. Legislature reviews and appropriates court budgets. • Clerks submit budgets to CCOC based on amount of money they project they will collect. • Public hearing is required with submission of annual budget request to the Legislature. • Court budgets reviewed in legislative appropriations committees. • Governor may exercise veto authority over any line item in court budgets. • Functions of CCOC are carried out by executive council of 8 clerks who review and certify these budgets. • CCOC certifies to Sen. President, Speaker, CFO, and DOR the budgets, projected revenue, and each clerk eligible to retain some or all of the state’s share of fines, fees, service charges and costs.
Contrasts and Comparisons Chapter 216 – Court Statutory Budget Controls Chapter 28 – Clerk Statutory Budget Controls • Appropriations made by Legislature are maximum appropriations. • CFO reviews CCOC budget certification. • Federal funds and all other revenue sources require appropriation by Legislature. • Amendments to court budgets require notice, review, and approval by Legislature. • Court budgets require performance measures and standards to be submitted to the Legislature. • Estimated revenues for clerks’ budgets include cash balances brought forward from the prior fiscal period, projected fees, service charges, court costs, and fines. • Clerks’ budgets may include a contingency reserve of up to 10%. • Clerks’ budgets require performance measures and standards.
Contrasts and Comparisons Chapter 216 – Court Statutory Budget Controls Chapter 28 – Clerk Statutory Budget Controls • Court budgets are subject to annual cash release plans set by the Governor and CFO. • The LBC may approve increases to maximum annual clerks’ budgets to provide for new or additional functions due to changes in law, or to pay for the costs of supporting increases in the number of judges or magistrates. • Courts must cover any projected deficits from within their legislatively authorized budget. • Actions to cover statewide deficits that impact court budgets are directed in statute. • Court budgets do not have a contingency reserve. • Clerks may increase the amount of FTE in their budgets, within annual caps.
Contrasts and Comparisons Chapter 216 – Court Statutory Budget Controls Chapter 28 – Clerk Statutory Budget Controls • Court GR budgets revert to state at end of each fiscal year for use by the Legislature. • Clerks may increase the amount of their budgets if revenue is available, within annual revenue caps. • Courts may not initiate new programs without Legislative authority. • Salary rate is appropriated by the Legislature to control maximum amounts authorized for salaries of court employees.
Contrasts and Comparisons Chapter 216 – Court Statutory Budget Controls • Court employee salaries are set in the approved classification and pay plan for the branch. • Court budgets may not provide for general salary increases or bonuses without legislative authorization. • Court budgets may not exceed the amount of legislatively authorized positions. Chapter 28 – Clerk Statutory Budget Controls
Total “Court Related” Revenue From Filing Fees, Fines, Service Charges, and Court Costs FY 2008 -09 (including 12 A) Directly to GR *Includes $13. 4 million for Mediation and Court Education Trust Fund, $10. 8 for the State Courts Revenue Trust Fund, and $3. 7 for the SA and PD Trust Fund. Total Revenue: $981. 1 million Note: Clerks take in additional revenue from the Documentary Stamp Tax and the Intangible Class C Tax that are not included in this chart.
Sources of Court System’s Budget: 89. 5% General Revenue 3. 8% Filing Fee Revenue 2. 5% Fine Revenue 4. 2% Other Sources
Clerk of Court “Court-Related” Estimated Revenue Sources – After Earmarks to GR and Other Programs: FY 2008 -09 Total Revenue $550. 7 million* *Source: Florida Clerk of Court Operations Corporation, FY 2008/09 Certified Article V Budgets
Contrasts and Comparisons Court System Budgets Clerks Budgets FY 08/09: $433 million 4, 137. 50 FTEs FY 08/09: $539 million 9, 645. 49 FTEs FY 07/08: $467 million 4, 391. 50 FTEs FY 07/08: $502 million 9, 378. 83 FTEs
Contrasts and Comparisons $600, 000 $500, 000 Clerks of Court and State Courts System Expenditures vs. Budget 33% 13% 22% 23% $400, 000 FY 2004 -05 FY 2005 -06 $300, 000 FY 2006 -07 FY 2007 -08 FY 2008 -09 $200, 000 $100, 000 $0 Clerk Budget Court Budget Clerk Expenditures Court Expenditures Clerks expenditures excludes amount budgeted for capital; data is unknown. Source: Florida State Courts System. Florida CCOC, Certified Article V Budget. Clerk expenditure as reported in CCOC Executive Council meeting materials, November 8, 2008.
One-third of all fines, fees, service charges, and costs collected by the clerks of the court during the prior month for the performance of courtrelated functions shall be remitted to the Department of Revenue for deposit into the Department of Revenue Clerks of the Court Trust Fund. § 28. 37, F. S.
Contrasts and Comparisons • The clerk budget model is workload based. When workload goes up and creates additional revenue, an individual clerk is able to add resources within their revenue caps. • The budget model for Judicial Branch entities, including the courts, is needs based. The Legislature determines the budget priorities for the courts, state attorneys, public defenders, regional counsels, and guardian ad litem programs, and determines the level of resources provided to address increased workloads.
Contrasts and Comparisons
County Funding for State Courts: • Counties shall be required to fund the cost of communications services, existing radio systems, existing multi-agency criminal justice information systems, and the cost of construction or lease, maintenance, utilities, and security of facilities for the trial courts, PDs’ offices, SAs’ offices, and the offices of the clerks performing court-related functions. • Counties shall also pay reasonable and necessary salaries, costs, and expenses of the state courts system to meet local requirements as determined by general law. Article V, section 14(c), Florida Constitution
Examples of Local Requirement Expenditures: • • • Drug Court Teen Court Legal Library Legal Aid Alternative Sanctions Coordinators Pretrial Services Juvenile Programs Guardianship Programs Other Court Innovations
Items Excluded from Clerk Budget Report The costs and FTEs for the following court-related activities were excluded from the clerks’ 2008 -09 Article V budgets in calculation of Article V costs: • County-obligated court-related expenditures • Information Technology • Other (e. g. maintenance, utilities, security) • Optional court-related programs (family mediation, teen court, GAL, family pro se, victim-witness, law library) • Federal IV-D child support reimbursement-related expenditures Source: CCOC, Florida Clerks of the Circuit Court: FY 2008 -09 Certified Article V Budgets for Submission to the Florida Legislature, Oct. 15, 2008, p. vii.
Questions • Clerks determine not only their need for additional resources based on workload, but also the number of FTEs, salary rates, employee pay raises, and bonuses, which is a separate budgetary decision. • Court employees get what is approved by the Legislature for all state employees.
Questions • Of the 52 county clerks who have responded to the courts’ February 12 th public records request: ▫ 41 clerks reported giving bonuses, merit increases, longevity increases, and/or COLAs ▫ 18 clerks gave more than one of these increases to employees ▫ 39 clerks gave all or almost all employees COLAs or merit increases ▫ Bonuses up to $2, 500 ▫ Merit/Longevity increases up to $4, 750 ▫ COLAs up to 4% ▫ Many clerks pay the full health insurance premium for all employees
Court-Related Functions of County Clerks Established in Chapter 28
Clerks’ Court-Related Services • • Case maintenance Records management Court preparation and attendance Processing the assignment, reopening, and reassignment of cases • Processing appeals • Collection and distribution of fines, fees, service charges, and court costs • Processing bond forfeiture payments
Clerks’ Court-Related Services • Payment of jurors and witnesses • Payment of expenses for meals or lodging provided to jurors • Data collection and reporting • Processing jurors • Determinations of indigent status • Keeping progress dockets • Disposal of evidence • Pro se assistance
Challenges • The amendment to Article V known as Revision 7 created a statewide court system; however, 20 chief judges rely on 67 independent clerks for support, limiting opportunities to increase uniformity and/or standardization • Performance of court-related duties varies by county since each clerk is only designing and implementing work processes for that one county • Accountability of chief judges for administrative supervision of their circuits is difficult when courtrelated functions are handled 67 different ways
Challenges • OPPAGA Report No. 01 -54, written regarding Revision 7 implementation, acknowledged that: “the state’s ability to hold these officers [clerks] accountable for providing standardized state services will be very limited”
Challenges • Splitting Case Maintenance and Case Management functions is not working from the court system’s perspective • Due to funding scheme, clerks have resources to build both local case maintenance systems and the statewide Comprehensive Case Information System (CCIS) ▫ $1. 90 of each recording fee to local clerk for technology ▫ $1. 00/first page and $0. 50/each additional page, for each instrument listed in s. 28. 222, Fla. Stat. , to be deposited in the Public Records Modernization Trust Fund ▫ $0. 10 of each recording fee to Florida Association of Court Clerks for CCIS
Challenges • In a Revision 7 implementation study conducted in 2003, 738 distinct information systems were in place in the clerk’s offices to support court activity.
Challenges • Courts’ technology resources ▫ $2. 00 of each recording fee shared by courts, state attorneys, public defenders, guardians ad litem, and regional conflict counsels ▫ Some counties provide other technology funding • No funding from Legislature for statewide case management system • Courts have limited case management systems available only in some circuits
Challenges • Courts lack reliable case data needed to meet their case management needs: “Judges frequently voiced concerns about the accuracy of case data reported to them by their county clerks… Several circuits reported that while county clerks have assigned dedicated staff to try to improve the accuracy of clerks’ data, the data was still inaccurate and sometimes internally inconsistent… Judges also questioned whether management reports generated from clerk data contained all the information they needed to effectively oversee case management… Previous studies have identified similar problems and concerns with court data systems. ” OPPAGA Report No. 09 -06
Conclusion • Current division of responsibilities does not provide opportunities for standardization that could result in efficiencies and improved court performance • Courts do not have adequate case management information to assess and improve performance