Long Wait Times
March 23, 2018
I would like to address an issue that frustrates Florida taxpayers including those in Palm Beach County. The issue is long wait times at Florida Tax Collector Offices. I hear the frustration every day from taxpayers. I know my peers – the Constitutional Tax Collectors who serve their respective counties – hear many of the same complaints.
My employees work hard to provide excellent service to all Palm Beach County taxpayers. Today it is becoming increasingly difficult to provide this level of service, a level of service you deserve. I want every taxpayer to understand why this unfortunate trend is taking place here in Palm Beach County and throughout Florida.
When the Florida Legislature transferred the responsibility to provide driver license services to Tax Collectors in 2010, they agreed to pay us $6.25 per transaction. All other fees charged for driver licenses go directly to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) trust fund. Tax Collectors are struggling to balance service needs with the fee reimbursement. Because this fee is so small, what’s really happening is Palm Beach County property tax payers end up subsidizing the cost of providing driver license services.
Taxpayers should remember that my agency is not funded by tax dollars. Our budget is funded by the fees we collect for every transaction we provide. These fees are based on statutory fees. The driver license fee of $6.25 doesn’t even come close to covering the cost of providing this service.
The ongoing growth of Palm Beach County also impacts our operation. When I was elected in 2006, our county was home to 700,000 people. We’ve now grown to over 1.4 million people. Every new home constructed here adds 2.3 people who need our service.
Even if fees were increased, we cannot add staff because most of our service centers are located in buildings that we cannot enlarge. Expanding facilities to accommodate additional employees is simply not an option. An important step I am taking now is the construction of our own buildings. Unfortunately, construction takes three to four years from planning to completion.
It amazes me that 30 percent of people waiting in line don’t really need to be there. They could use our website. I encourage clients to complete their transaction using our convenient Online Payment Center. Also, they shouldn’t wait until the last minute. You can renew your driver license 18 months before it expires!
Please call your local Representative and Senator and ask them to give Florida Tax Collectors a larger portion of fees collected for driver license services. Additional funds will help us provide more efficient service and the ability to reduce wait times!
Anne M. Gannon
Constitutional Tax Collector