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Tampa Bay area tax collectors to reopen for limited services

Appointments are required in Hillsborough County. Pinellas is set to reopen Thursday.

TAMPA — The office of Hillsborough County Tax Collector Doug Belden will be happy to see you in person.

The same goes for the staff working for Mike Fasano, the tax collector in Pasco County. Ditto for Pinellas County Tax Collector Charles W. Thomas, but you’ll need to wait a little longer there.

Doug Belden, Hillsborough County tax collector, will reopen some offices for limited operations beginning Monday. [ CHRISTOPHER O'DONNELL | Times ]

Belden and Fasano announced they are re-opening some offices for limited operations beginning Monday morning — about six weeks after closing branches and reducing services because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In Pinellas, one branch, the mid-county branch at 13025 Starkey Road in Largo, will open Thursday.

Belden will open branches at 3030 N. Falkenburg Road in Brandon and the Drew Park location at 4100 W. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., but appointments are required. To make an appointment, visit www.hillstax.org. For more information, call 813-635-5200.

Staff at the Drew Park Hillsborough Tax Collector's office prepare to open their location by providing face masks, disinfecting sprays and hand sanitizer for staff on Friday, May 1, 2020 in Tampa. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

Belden said the resumption of services is being done in accordance with a plan "that protects the health and well-being of our customers and employees, while balancing the service needs of our community.''

He recommended customers still conduct business online when possible.

The numbers explain why. Each of the two branches served more than 19,000 customers in May 2019. The staff is projecting each branch will be able to serve just less than 10,200 appointments during the 19 work days this month.

"That’s important to stress,'' Nancy Millan, director of community relations, said about the continued availability of online services.

Related: In Hillsborough, tax man takes steps to stop spread of coronavirus

The in-person services available include driver’s licenses and identification cards, but no road tests; written driving tests, commercial driver’s licenses, excluding hazardous materials endorsements; tags and titles for vehicles, boats and mobile homes; property tax payments; disabled parking placards; hunting and fishing licenses and birth certificates.

Only customers with appointments will be allowed in the office and they will be asked screening questions and have their temperatures taken before entering. Customers with a temperature exceeding 100.4 degrees will not be permitted to enter. Plexiglas barriers have been installed at service windows and customers are encouraged to wear face masks. The office will open every other service window to provide social distancing for employees, Millan said.

She said the tax collector’s office will evaluate the phased-in opening before announcing when other branches may reopen.

Staff at the Drew Park Hillsborough Tax Collector's office prepare to open by implementing various social distancing measures, including removing most of the 321 chairs and providing social distancing space, on Friday, May 1, 2020 in Tampa. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

In Pasco, all five branches will open at 8:30 a.m. Monday. The offices will maintain social distancing standards such as limiting the number of people in the office at one time.

“We understand that people need to transact important business, and we want to give them every opportunity to do so,'' said Fasano. ”At the same time, we are abiding by health and safety regulations handed down by both state and federal authorities.''

Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano. Times (2012)

In Pinellas, the branch in Largo will open at 8 a.m. Thursday and serve only Pinellas County residents, by appointment, until 4:30 p.m. each day. Initially, customers whose appointments were canceled due to the pandemic will be given first priority.

The branch is following similar employee safeguards and social distancing requirements as HIllsborough and Pasco.

Monday, Fasano tweeted that the lines at the reopened Pasco offices were 100 deep “and growing.” He reminded customers that many services can be done over the phone at 727-847-8165.

Business was brisk in Hillsborough as well. Residents are encouraged to make appointments or conduct business online at www.hillstax.org.

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