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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Tax collectors fighting license tag outsourcing idea



More than a dozen county tax collectors went public on Wendesday to forcefully criticize a proposal being considered by the state to outsource the distribution of new license plates. They said the idea has been poorly vetted, would cost taxpayers more and disrupt the level of customer service they emphasize to Florida motorists.

"Our concern is doing away with a system that currently works for the people of our communities, and replacing it with a system that would hurt customer service," said Leon County Tax Collector Doris Maloy. "And that system would provide no real benefit to the people." 

Florida tax collectors are elected countywide constitutional officers, like sheriffs. In recent years the Legislature has greatly expanded their responsibilities to include the distribution of license tags. But state highway safety chief Julie Jones, who reports to Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet, believes she can save money by hiring a private vendor to distribute millions of tags around the state.

"I tried to look for different methods to get the same level of customer service at a cheaper price for the customer," said Jones, who said she's "dismayed" by the high level of resistance from tax collectors.

fbplates.jpgJones will ask Scott and the Cabinet next Tuesday to move ahead with a major redesign of the tag, from the current green-and-white design with raised letters to a flat tag with black letters and numbers on a white background. Every Florida motorists who has a standard tag will be required to switch to the new plate over a two-year period beginning in 2014. The tax collectors emphasized they are not opposed to a new redesigned tag. 

Other tax collectors attending the news conference included Diane Nelson of Pinellas County, Anne Gannon of Palm Beach, Joe Tedder of Polk, Michelle Cannon of Dixie, Ronnie Brannon of Columbia and Stan Nichols of Santa Rosa.

[Last modified: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 1:26pm]


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