The Polk County Clerk of the Circuit Court & Comptroller is a constitutional office and is required to have expenditures, revenues and operations audited. The Clerk is subject to multiple audits and those are listed and discussed below.
The County Commission contracts with an independent accounting firm to perform an audit of the functions and financial activities of the Polk County Board of County Commissioners 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 residents, 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.
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.
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 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.
Independent Financial Audits
The Florida Constitution charges the Clerk of the Circuit Court & Comptroller 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
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 but does not include the other Constitutional Officers in county government, including the Sheriff, Tax Collector, Property Appraiser, and Supervisor of Elections. In order to maximize overall efficiency, the Clerk uses some of the same employees to provide services for the Board of County Commissioners and the Clerk's Office. 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.
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. Court related services are funded from a portion of the court fines and fees the clerk collects. During the 2009 Legislative session, the clerks' budgets were capped statewide, and beginning July 1, 2009, clerk court-related budgets are a part of the 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 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
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, Fess, and Costs collected during 5 business quarters from the time assessed.