FROM: The Chief Judge, 11th Judicial Circuit
TO: All Judges, AOC
RE: Proposed Court House User Fees:
Date: April 1, 2011.
By now all of you are aware of the inclusion in the current budget of so called "courthouse user fees" to supplement the current judicial and court administrative budgets, which due to the slowing of foreclosure filings, have a collective shortfall of over 800 million dollars.
The Legislature will be mandating the implementation of these fees and any circuit that fails to do so "shall lose all funding for discretionary budget items."
I have met with several chief judges across the state and we will probably be implementing a toll fee, similar to those in use on highways across the state and country.
Simply put, every person who enters a state courthouse in Florida will be required to deposit a fee in coins that will constitute the user fee. Courthouse employees who enter a separate entrance will of course be exempt from the fee.
As the Legislature has left it to the discretion to the individual circuits to implement a user fee sufficient to cover that circuit's shortfall, I have determined that the initial user fee will be $1.50. (One dollar and fifty cents.)
Change receivers will be installed at all security screening entrances to all courthouses to receive the user fee.
The Florid Department of Transportation will work to assist all circuits in installing a "fast pass" similar to the electronic passes used on Florida's toll roads.
Attorneys - who can be expected to complain long and loud, will be offered the opportunity to purchase monthly passes for a fee of probably $25.00. This will allow them to enter any courthouse as many times as they wish for the payment of a monthly flat fee.
In the coming months we will work to establish protocols for the implementation of this fee- for instance what will be done with vendors, homeless individuals, children, witnesses, and other individuals who refuse or otherwise cannot pay? Your help in advocating the advantages of this fee- namely the restoration of important local projects that would otherwise be cut under the current budget- will be greatly appreciated.
The Legislature will probably require each circuit to have a collection process in place by July 1, 2011. Therefore, you can expect work to begin immediately on implementing the collection of user fees.
As the Governor and his staff have repeatedly said, why should courthouses be different from parking lots, movie theaters, amusement parks, or sporting events? While there may be philosophical arguments on both sides, I remain personally excited by the ability to collect revenue that will be used for the direct benefit of our courthouses and personnel.
Rumpole says: Lets the arguments begin- just try and refrain from cursing.