AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in an opinion released Nov. 13 said a "county treasurer does not have administrative authority over a court's registry account."

Franklin County Attorney Gene Stump sought Paxton's opinion in a letter dated June 23 in hopes of clarifying its county treasurer's and commissioner’s court's respective authority over its registry account. Franklin County has a population of less than 190,000.

Stump, in his letter, questioned whether the county treasurer has administrative authority over a court's registry account, including permanent online view-only access rights. In addition, Stump asked whether the county commissioners' court has authority the same account, apart from selection of the depository. He also asked if a separate employer identification number (EIN) is required for the registry account.

Stump stated in his letter that the questions have been raised to ensure that the depository has sufficient securities to cover the funds in the court registry account.

Paxton in his response wrote that a county treasurer does not have administrative authority over the account. Paxton explained while the county treasurer is the chief custodian of county funds, funds paid into the registry of the court do not belong to the county and must be deposited into a "registry fund" assigned to the county or district clerk.

In addressing whether the county commissioner’s court has authority over a court's registry account, Paxton wrote in his opinion “a county commissioners court has only the authority necessary to perform its duties to select, designate, and contract with a depository bank for court registry accounts and to require adequate security for the accounts.”

Finally, Paxton directed the issue of the county's EIN to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) since an EIN, also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number or Taxpayer Identification Number, is provided by the IRS for tax law purposes.

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