Message from Pat Frank

On Wednesday, May 17, Clerk of Court & Comptroller Pat Frank delivered the following remarks during a public hearing in Tampa of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission.

I am Pat Frank. I appear today representing my office as the Clerk of the Court and Comptroller for Hillsborough County.

Also here today are Court Clerk of Pinellas County, Ken Burke; and Paula O'Neill, Court Clerk of Pasco County.

Good afternoon members and guests. Thank you for your dedication to the daunting job of framing Florida for the next twenty years.

We have a serious problem. For this year, as well as the past nine years, I and other clerks have faced cuts to our budgets by the Legislature.

Article V of the Florida Constitution was amended by the voters in 2004 to transfer the responsibility of funding clerk's offices from the counties to the State. Section 14(b) of Article V specified that the clerks, along with our judicial partners, would be funded from the locally collected fines, fees and costs which clerks collect. That is not being followed.

Last year we collected statewide nearly $777 million; $409 million was kept by the clerks; $119 million went to the courts, state attorneys and public defenders and-listen carefully-$248 million of OUR LOCAL DOLLARS-went to other purposes unrelated to courts.

The titles of clerk and comptroller do not excite the public. But we are the watchdogs for the public. We are independently elected officials responsible for maintaining all court documents and preserving the counties funds. We must receive funds to operate appropriately.

I ask you to amend Section 14(b) of Article V so that clerks and their judicial partners are placed in a first priority to receive the local fines, fees and costs which we collect, based upon our documented needs. Let us spend our local dollars!

Thank you and GOD SPEED!