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), Clerk, Supervisor of Elections, Tax Collector, Property Appraiser, Human Resource and the Sheriff. In order to maximize overall efficiency, the Clerk uses the same employees to provide services for the BCC and the Clerk’s Office. Many Pinellas County agencies share a Unified Personnel System (UPS). The UPS provides the agencies with job classifications, personnel rules, uniform disciplinary guidelines and pay scales. The Human Resources Department sets the pay ranges in accordance with studies of like employers, both public and private, that perform similar work. The member agencies of the UPS are bound to follow the procedures as established by them. Those costs for financial operations not paid by the County are allocated to other budget areas, including Official Records and the court functions. The Clerk has approval authority for these budgets.
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. Furthermore, 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.
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 (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 with the remainder of the monies collected by the clerk going primarily to fund judicial operations throughout the state. 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.
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.
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 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.