Transition Plan for New Tax Collector Position Approved by Council.
Written by Kristen Schmutz
Belden Communications News
For the first time in 50 years, Volusia County voters will be able to elect a new Tax Collector, meaning the county’s revenue division will be undergoing a reorganization.
During the County Council meeting, Tuesday decisions were made on what changes will look like once the tax collector takes office come January. The revenue division is responsible for collecting and disbursing hundreds of millions of dollars every year from a variety of revenue sources, including property taxes, tourist and convention development taxes, utility taxes, business tax receipts, building permits, and utility bill payments. The division also is responsible for operating the county’s tag and title offices and acts as the county's centralized cashier for the collection of payments for everything from building permits, water bills, and Votran bus passes to hauling permits, special assessments, and beach citations.
Some of these jobs were the duty of the elected tax collector, but the position was abolished in Volusia County when voters changed the home-rule charter in the 70s. Since then, county staff has handled the duties listed above, but that is about to change again due to a ballot initiative (Amendment 10) that was approved back in 2018.
On Tuesday, council members and county staff said they didn’t want to delay action on the transition plan until after the election because of the need to prepare the revenue division and have everything in place for the Jan. 5, 2021 effective date. Still, there was general agreement that the county would be open to changes after the tax collector is elected and begins making operational decisions for the new office.
“We’ll certainly work with whoever is in the tax collector position,” said County Manager George Recktenwald.
“This is a living, breathing instrument,” added council member Ben Johnson about the transition plan. “Once whoever is elected, they can start negotiating and we’re more than willing to play ball and make it work. But we have functions that have to get done.”
The transition plan identifies the statutory duties of tax collector that will transfer to that office and the services to be provided to the tax collector by the county in the same manner as the supervisor of elections and property appraiser. For the functions that fall to the new tax collector’s office, employees currently providing tax collector duties will no longer be county employees. Instead, they’ll become employees of the tax collector. However, they’ll continue to be subject to the county’s personnel rules unless the elected tax collector establishes different personnel rules.
Seeking to achieve cost and operational efficiencies that avoid duplication of services, the transition plan includes a provision to the tax collector of many existing county services such as facilities management, custodial services, fleet maintenance, payroll, legal, information technology, internal auditor and community information.
The county has filed a legal challenge seeking to clarify if the amendment applies here due to the home-rule charter, but the case is left unsettled at this time. If the court rules that Amendment 10 doesn’t apply to the county, the transition to the tax collector, and other elected county charter officers to county constitutional officers will not take place.
Voting for the new tax collector position will take place during the Florida Primary on August 18.