The County Clerk is responsible for filing vital records, or important documents related to a specific county's population, including birth, death and marriage certificates. The clerk is sometimes described as the “hub of the wheel” in local government because of the central role that they play in the governmental communication network. The information provided daily to governing board members, local government employees and citizens by the clerks assist them all in performing the various responsibilities and duties of their office or daily lives.
Many municipal and county clerks perform still other tasks. City clerks are often tax collectors or finance officers for their local governments. Some also serve as purchasing agents, personnel directors, or managers. County clerks are occasionally assistant managers or assistants to the manager. Some may combine the duties of clerk with those of manager, finance officer, or another county official.
One of the clerk’s most important statutory duties is to prepare the minutes of governing board meetings and maintain them in a set of minute books. The powers of a city or a county are exercised by the city council or the board of county commissioners, and the minutes of the governing board’s meetings are the official record of what it does. The minutes prepared by the clerk must be “full and accurate,” for they are the legal evidence of what the governing board has said and done. The board “speaks” only through its minutes, and their contents may not be altered nor their meaning explained by other evidence.
Access for Inspection and Copying
Most of the records of cities and counties, whether maintained in the clerk’s office or elsewhere, must be made available for public inspection. However, some records are exempt from inspection because of a specific statute. Examples of statutory exemptions are those for most municipal and county personnel records, those for certain attorney-client records, those for certain law enforcement records, and those for specified records concerning industrial development. Unless a record is exempt from disclosure, it must be made available for inspection and examination “at reasonable times and under reasonable supervision by any person”, not just by local residents or those with a special interest in the record. The use that a person plans to make of city or county records is irrelevant to his or her right of inspection
Making public records available for inspection is an important legal duty of custodians of records. Generally no fee should be charged for the right of inspection.