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Clerk of court has no control over copying costs

Editor: Recently, the Citrus County Chronicle published an editorial titled, "City Charges for Public Records." The editorial stated, "The city isn't the only public agency that is misguided on the subject. Citrus County Clerk of the Court Betty Strifler has the highest and most inappropriate charges in the region."

In response, I would like to explain the responsibility of the clerk of the court as custodian of public records and the mission of the clerk in providing access to public records.

The clerk of the court is the custodian of official records, court records, county finance records and the official records of the Board of County Commissioners.

Official records are those documents that transfer, encumber or assign real property. The clerk maintains an index to the official record dating back to 1878. The index and the image of the document dating back to 1982 are available online at www.clerk.citrus.fl.us. The image may be viewed and printed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, any day of the year at no cost. If you do not have access to the Internet, you may use one of the computers available at the courthouse in Inverness or at the branch office in Crystal River.

Court records are available for viewing or copying at the courthouse in Inverness, unless the Florida Statute prohibits public access. The charge of $1 per page to copy a court document is set by the Florida Statute.

Recent changes in Florida law require that the clerk of the court support the court operations of the clerk's office with filing fees and service charges. Those filing fees and service charges are set by Florida Statute. The systems used to collect, manage and retain court records are funded by an assessment added to recorded documents and are not funded by the general fund of the clerk of court or by the Board of County Commissioners.

The Legislature defined the user or the person requesting the court service as the party responsible for funding the cost, not the general taxpaying public who do not receive a benefit from services such as a copy of a court document.

Copies of finance records, as well as the official records of the Board of County Commissioners, are available at the courthouse for 5 cents per page. The minutes of the Board of County Commissioners meetings are available online at www.clerk.citrus.fl.us and may be printed at no cost. The comprehensive annual financial report for Citrus County is also available online and may be printed at no cost.

The clerk's office has utilized technology to improve access to public records in our custody and will continue in the future to make improvements as financial resources are available.

Please e-mail any questions about access to the clerk of courts public records to bstriflerclerk.citrus.fl.us or call 341-6481.

Betty Strifler

Clerk of the Circuit Court, Citrus County

Couple extends thanks to hospice

Editor: Please allow me and my wife, Anne, this opportunity to express appreciation and humble gratitude to an organization whose assistance allows us, and I am sure many, many others, the ability to care for our loved ones in their final struggle to remain on this Earth.

The success of this organization is borne by those who are in the field 24/7 involved with the patient and caregivers. The organization I speak of is Hospice of Citrus County.

I have never met more caring and dedicated people in my life. This is the second time as caregivers that Anne and I have had the support and dedicated help of Hospice of Citrus County. The first time was with Rose Oddi, my wife's mother. This time it was with Joseph Oddi, my wife's father. Anne and I would not have been able to keep our promise of home care to Mom or Dad if it were not for Hospice of Citrus County.

From our hearts, thank you, Rhonda Price and Ann Ulrichsen-Lindsley, for your loving care and efforts to make Pop comfortable and happy. Thank you, Lisa K. Nelson. Thank you, Meagan VonStaden. Thank you, Betty Carter. You bring the best to the field of nursing. Last, but certainly not least, thank you to Vickory Holland, respite volunteer for Hospice of Citrus County. Vickory, with a knowledge and compassion beyond expectation, thank you so very much.

If I have missed anyone by name, please forgive us. Once again, thank you so very much, Hospice of Citrus County.

Michael and Anne Pitts, Inverness

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