Nobody's ideal day is visiting the auto tag office. Forking over money to a rude clerk after waiting an eternity in a hard-to-find, dumpy building hardly does wonders for one's view of government. But Hillsborough County Tax Collector Doug Belden has been recognized for changing that, and he and his employees deserve credit.
Belden's office won a 2008 Governor's Sterling Award, which honors outstanding business practices and customer service. Created in 1992 by Gov. Lawton Chiles, the program measures a range of business operations that together paint a picture of how well public and private agencies run. Auditors pore through more than 200 indicators, examining everything from an institution's leadership, customer service and business model to its efficiency and long-range planning.
Belden's office is the first government agency in Hills-
borough and the first among tax collectors in Florida to achieve the honor. Anyone who has seen his office first-hand can attest to the professionalism of his employees and the speed with which they process licenses and other forms. They have made what used to be a minor hassle of everyday living a model of what government service should be. It's a goal every public agency should shoot for.