Pandemic takes toll on funding for Florida’s court system

Florida’s court system is taking a financial hit from the COVID-19 pandemic.

A report issued this week by the state Revenue Estimating Conference said court fees, known as “Article V” fees, in the 2019-2020 fiscal year were $48.3 million below what had been estimated in December before the pandemic largely shut down courthouses and scaled back business activity.

The 2019-2020 fiscal year ended June 30, and the report also points to reduced estimates of court fees in the coming years.

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“The shortfalls across the judicial system (county court, circuit court, family court, and traffic court) and the clerks were widespread, leading to a combined loss across all categories and revenue recipients of $48.3 million,” the report said. “This loss was largely induced by the impact of the worldwide pandemic on court operations; the statewide safer at home order regarding essential services which --- among other things --- affected the amount of traffic on the roads; various state and local government office closures; and actions to provide forbearance on delinquent payments and foreclosures.”

The report also said foreclosure filings in the coming years are expected to be higher than in earlier estimates.