The Clerk of the Circuit Court, established by the Constitution of 1838, is the public trustee for the county. The Clerk provides the checks and balances in county government by acting in their capacity as Clerk to the Board, Clerk to the Court, Keeper of the Public Records, Comptroller and Internal Auditor of county funds.
The office of the Clerk is a complex organization that performs a wide range of record keeping, information management and financial management in the judicial system and county government. In a study conducted by the Joint Select Committee on Judicial Personnel of the Legislature, it was calculated that the Clerk’s office performs 926 different constitutional and statutory functions or duties.
The Okeechobee County Property Appraiser is the Constitution officer charged with making the annual determination of the just or fair market value of all property within the county for taxing purposes, and maintaining certain records connected therewith. These records include a comprehensive GIS (Geographic Information System). This office accepts and reviews all applications, granting those that qualify for exemptions and classifications available to Florida property owners.
The sheriff of Okeechobee County has his duties and regulations established through Florida statutes, just as do the other constitutional officers. At the present time, Paul C. May is the Sheriff and Chief Law Enforcement Officer of Okeechobee County. Sheriff May has over 34 years of law enforcement experience as a Florida Highway Patrol trooper 25 of those years in Okeechobee County.
While the list of responsibilities is quite lengthy, generally the duties of the office of the sheriff are:
- As conservator of the peace within his county directed to suppress tumults, riots and unlawful assemblies with force and a strong hand, when necessary;
- To raise the power of the county and command any person to assist him;
- To apprehend any person disturbing the peace or violating the law;
- As the executive officer of the various courts -- including the Supreme Court, circuit courts and county courts;
- To execute all orders of the board of county commissioners; and,
- To perform such duties as may be imposed by law. Those "other duties" are detailed on no less than four pages of the Sheriff's Handbook.
Some of the other statutory duties are: maintaining confidentiality of juvenile records; attachments and garnishments; posting notices of general elections, where necessary; providing system for processing complaints; executing process for collection of estate taxes, intangible personal property taxes, motor and fuel taxes, commercial vehicle taxes, cigarette taxes, severance taxes and sales and use taxes; taking custody and delivering persons for involuntary psychological exam; reporting abuse or neglect of aged persons and children; recording liquor seizures; impounding stray livestock; destroy injured or suffering animals; summon members of statewide grand jury; extradition of witnesses; and, operating the county jail.
Tax Collector, Celeste Watford
The Tax Collector serves as an agent for various state and local government agencies and taxing authorities for collection of revenue, and is also responsible for distributing this revenue to these agencies. A wide range of services are provided by the Tax Collector’s office, including:
- Collection of ad valorem and non-ad valorem taxes;
- Renewal of motor vehicle, vessel, mobile home and recreational vehicle registrations;
- Processing of title applications;
- Collection of sales tax in relation to vehicle transactions;
- Issuance of hunting and fishing licenses;
- Collection of local Business Tax licenses.
Although most of the revenue collected is taxes, the Tax Collector’s office isn’t funded with tax dollars but with fees collected for services provided. These fees are established by the Florida Legislature and outlined in the Florida Statutes. The amount of work done in the Tax Collector’s office creates fee revenues in excess of the Tax Collector’s budget. All excess fees are returned to the local government agencies at the end of each fiscal year.