From the Herald Tribune. Bills introduced by leaders in the Florida House and Senate would eliminate many of the functions of the state’s 67 county clerks, moving the responsibility of collecting as much as $500 million a year to the state courts system. Among the duties that could be moved are: collect fines and court costs, processing appeals, managing court records and paying jurors.
The proposal has spawned a war of words between judges and the clerks – with judges and their backers saying millions of dollars could be saved by the switch, while clerks claim they run a more efficient collections system than judges could.
The sponsor of the House bill, Rep. Ellyn Setnor Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, says she is preparing estimates that the move would save as much as $200 million a year. Bogdanoff chairs the House committee that writes the state budget. The Senate sponsor of the bill is former Senate President Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie.
The law would not eliminate county clerks, which are required by the state constitution. But the clerks could be reduced to recording documents and essentially serving as the accountants for county commissions. The clerk does not serve the accountant function in Duval County, however. So locally, if the legislation should pass, the clerk would only be recording documents – a function the City at one time discussed taking over during negotiations of an agreement with the clerk’s office last year.