27.54 Limitation on payment of expenditures other than by the state.—
(1) All payments for the salary of the public defender and the criminal conflict and civil regional counsel and for the necessary expenses of office, including salaries of assistants and staff, shall be considered as being for a valid public purpose. Travel expenses shall be paid in accordance with the provisions of s. 112.061.
(2) A county or municipality may contract with, or appropriate or contribute funds to, the operation of the offices of the various public defenders and regional counsel as provided in this subsection. A public defender or regional counsel defending violations of special laws or county or municipal ordinances punishable by incarceration and not ancillary to a state charge shall contract with counties and municipalities to recover the full cost of services rendered on an hourly basis or reimburse the state for the full cost of assigning one or more full-time equivalent attorney positions to work on behalf of the county or municipality. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in the case of a county with a population of less than 75,000, the public defender or regional counsel shall contract for full reimbursement, or for reimbursement as the parties otherwise agree. In local ordinance violation cases, the county or municipality shall pay for due process services that are approved by the court, including deposition costs, deposition transcript costs, investigative costs, witness fees, expert witness costs, and interpreter costs. The person charged with the violation shall be assessed a fee for the services of a public defender or regional counsel and other costs and fees paid by the county or municipality, which assessed fee may be reduced to a lien, in all instances in which the person enters a plea of guilty or no contest or is found to be in violation or guilty of any count or lesser included offense of the charge or companion case charges, regardless of adjudication. The court shall determine the amount of the obligation. The county or municipality may recover assessed fees through collections court or as otherwise permitted by law, and any fees recovered pursuant to this section shall be forwarded to the applicable county or municipality as reimbursement.
(a) A contract for reimbursement on an hourly basis shall require a county or municipality to reimburse the public defender or regional counsel for services rendered at a rate of $50 per hour. If an hourly rate is specified in the General Appropriations Act, that rate shall control.
(b) A contract for assigning one or more full-time equivalent attorney positions to perform work on behalf of the county or municipality shall assign one or more full-time equivalent positions based on estimates by the public defender or regional counsel of the number of hours required to handle the projected workload. The full cost of each full-time equivalent attorney position on an annual basis shall be $50, or the amount specified in the General Appropriations Act, multiplied by the legislative budget request standard for available work hours for one full-time equivalent attorney position, or, in the absence of that standard, 1,854 hours. The contract may provide for funding full-time equivalent positions in one-quarter increments.
(c) Any payments received pursuant to this subsection shall be deposited into the Grants and Donations Trust Fund within the Justice Administrative Commission for appropriation by the Legislature.
(3) No public defender, assistant public defender, regional counsel, or assistant regional counsel shall receive from any county or municipality any supplemental salary, except as provided in this section.
(4) Unless expressly authorized by law or in the General Appropriations Act, public defenders and regional counsel are prohibited from spending state-appropriated funds on county funding obligations under s. 14, Art. V of the State Constitution beginning January 1, 2005. This includes expenditures on communications services and facilities as defined in s. 29.008. This does not prohibit a public defender from spending funds for these purposes in exceptional circumstances when necessary to maintain operational continuity in the form of a short-term advance pending reimbursement from the county. If a public defender or regional counsel provides short-term advance funding for a county responsibility as authorized by this subsection, the public defender or regional counsel shall request full reimbursement from the board of county commissioners prior to making the expenditure or at the next meeting of the board of county commissioners after the expenditure is made. The total of all short-term advances authorized by this subsection shall not exceed 2 percent of the public defender’s or regional counsel’s approved operating budget in any given year. No short-term advances authorized by this subsection shall be permitted until all reimbursements arising from advance funding in the prior state fiscal year have been received by the public defender or regional counsel. All reimbursement payments received by the public defender or regional counsel shall be deposited into the General Revenue Fund. Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsection, the public defender or regional counsel may expend funds for the purchase of computer systems, including associated hardware and software, and for personnel related to this function.
History.—s. 5, ch. 63-409; s. 3, ch. 67-539; s. 4, ch. 72-327; s. 2, ch. 72-722; s. 3, ch. 73-216; s. 6, ch. 80-376; s. 4, ch. 85-213; s. 4, ch. 88-280; s. 1, ch. 89-118; s. 2, ch. 91-303; s. 140, ch. 92-279; s. 55, ch. 92-326; s. 141, ch. 95-147; s. 21, ch. 2003-402; s. 12, ch. 2004-265; s. 5, ch. 2005-236; s. 12, ch. 2007-62.