There is established a budget procedure for preparing budget requests for funding for the court-related functions of the clerks of the court.
(1) Each clerk of court shall prepare a budget request for the last quarter of the county fiscal year and the first three quarters of the next county fiscal year. The proposed budget shall be prepared, summarized, and submitted by the clerk in each county to the Florida Clerks of Court Operations Corporation in the manner and form prescribed by the corporation to meet the requirements of law. Each clerk shall forward a copy of his or her budget request to the Supreme Court. The budget requests must be provided to the corporation by October 1 of each year.
(2) Each clerk shall include in his or her budget request a projection of the amount of court-related fees, service charges, and any other court-related clerk fees which will be collected during the proposed budget period. If the corporation determines that the proposed budget is limited to the standard list of court-related functions in s. 28.35(3)(a) and the projected court-related revenues are less than the proposed budget, the clerk shall increase all fees, service charges, and any other court-related clerk fees and charges to the maximum amounts specified by law or the amount necessary to resolve the deficit, whichever is less. (3) Each clerk shall include in his or her budget request the number of personnel and the proposed budget for each of the following core services:
(a) Circuit criminal.
(b) County criminal.
(c) Juvenile delinquency.
(d) Criminal traffic.
(e) Circuit civil.
(f) County civil.
(g) Civil traffic.
(j) Juvenile dependency.
Central administrative costs shall be allocated among the core-services categories.
(4) The budget request must identify the service units to be provided within each core service. The service units shall be developed by the corporation, in consultation with the Supreme Court, the Chief Financial Officer, and the appropriations committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
(5) The budget request must propose a unit cost for each service unit. The corporation shall provide a copy of each clerk’s budget request to the Supreme Court.
(6) The corporation shall review each individual clerk’s prior-year expenditures, projected revenue, proposed unit costs, and the proposed budget for each of the core-services categories. The corporation shall compare each clerk’s prior-year expenditures and unit costs for core services with a peer group of clerks’ offices having a population of a similar size and a similar number of case filings. If the corporation finds that the expenditures, unit costs, or proposed budget of a clerk is significantly higher than those of clerks in that clerk’s peer group, the corporation shall require the clerk to submit documentation justifying the difference in each core-services category. Justification for higher expenditures may include, but is not limited to, collective bargaining agreements, county civil service agreements, and the number and distribution of courthouses served by the clerk. If the expenditures and unit costs are not justified, the corporation shall recommend a reduction in the funding for that core-services category in the budget request to an amount similar to the peer group of clerks or to an amount that the corporation determines is justified.
(7) The corporation shall complete its review and adjustments to the clerks’ budget requests and make its recommendations to the Legislature and the Supreme Court by December 1 each year.
(8) The Chief Financial Officer shall review the proposed unit costs associated with each clerk of court’s budget request and make recommendations to the Legislature. The Chief Financial Officer may conduct any audit of the corporation or a clerk of court as authorized by law. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court may request an audit of the corporation or any clerk of court by the Chief Financial Officer.
(9) The Legislature shall appropriate the total amount for the budgets of the clerks in the General Appropriations Act. The Legislature may reject or modify any or all of the unit costs recommended by the corporation. If the Legislature does not specify the unit costs in the General Appropriations Act or other law, the unit costs recommended by the corporation shall be the official unit costs for that budget period.
(10)(a) Beginning in the 2010-2011 fiscal year, the corporation shall release appropriations to each clerk quarterly. If funds in the Clerks of Court Trust Fund are insufficient to provide a release in a quarter in a single release, the corporation may release partial amounts for that quarter so long as the total of those partial amounts does not exceed that quarter’s release. If funds in the Clerks of Court Trust Fund are insufficient for the first quarter release, the corporation may make a request to the Governor for a trust fund loan pursuant to chapter 215. The amount of the first three releases shall be based on one quarter of the estimated budget for each clerk as identified in the General Appropriations Act.
(b) The corporation shall estimate the fourth quarter’s number of units to be performed by each clerk. The amount of the fourth-quarter release shall be based on the approved unit cost times the estimated number of units of the fourth quarter with the following adjustment: the fourth-quarter release shall be adjusted based on the first three quarter’s actual number of service units provided as reported to the corporation by each clerk. If the clerk has performed fewer service units in the first three quarters of the year compared to three quarters of the estimated number of service units in the General Appropriations Act, the corporation shall decrease the fourth-quarter release. The amount of the decrease shall equal the amount of the difference between 1the estimated number of service units for the first three quarters and the actual number of service units provided in the first three quarters times the approved unit cost.
(c) No adjustment for the fourth-quarter release shall be made if the clerk has performed more units than the estimate for the first three quarters.
(d) If the clerk performs fewer units in the fourth quarter than estimated by the corporation, the corporation shall decrease the first-quarter release for the clerk in the next fiscal year by the amount of the difference between the estimated number of service units for the fourth quarter and the actual number of service units performed in that quarter times the approved unit cost.
(e) The total of all releases to the clerks of court may not exceed the amount appropriated in the General Appropriations Act. If, during the year, the corporation determines that the projected releases of appropriations for service units will exceed the estimate used in the General Appropriations Act and result in statewide expenditures greater than the amount appropriated by law, the corporation shall reduce all service unit costs of all clerks by the amount necessary to ensure that service units are funded within the total amount appropriated to the clerks of court. If such action is necessary, the corporation shall notify the Legislative Budget Commission. If the Legislative Budget Commission objects to the adjustments, the Legislative Budget Commission shall adjust all service unit costs by the amount necessary to ensure that projected units of service are funded within the total amount appropriated to the clerks of court at its next scheduled meeting.
(11) The corporation may submit proposed legislation to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives relating to the preparation of budget requests of the clerks of court.