published: Sunday, October 21, 2012
Tax Collector office to take on more duties
By BARRY FOSTER
SEBRING - Highlands County commissioners Tuesday got a nice gift as Highlands County Tax Collector Eric Zwayer gave them a check for $650,654. It came from $688,726 in unspent revenues from his office, with the balance going to the water management districts and other governmental agencies.
Zwayer pointed out that his operation is not run by tax dollars but instead gets its revenue from fees and charges for services ranging from motor vehicle and vessel registrations to hunting licenses and even garage sale permits.
"Our office is the most businesslike government activity there is," he told commissioners, noting that like the Highlands County Property Appraiser's Office, his budget is not approved by the commission, but gets its authorization from the Florida Department of Revenue.
This year's check was less than last year's, and Zwayer cautioned that next year's check could be down again. He cited a $4 million decrease in overall revenue since 2007, with declines in line items such as tax certificate sales.
"This makes the job more difficult," he said. "We continually have to look for increased efficiencies."
He also showed the commission how his expenses had increased after taking over the issuance of driver's licenses. Those operations began in Lake Placid and Avon Park last year with the third to start in Sebring in July 2013. In preparation for that eventuality, the tax collector's offices at the Highlands County Government Center were remodeled. Zwayer said they were able to keep that under a planned $100,000 budget, saying the new configuration would be both more efficient and more convenient for customers.
Next, Zwayer told the commission, he will look at the notion of issuing birth certificates and concealed weapons permits.
In fact, the Highlands County Tax Collector already has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Highlands County Health Department to take over the issuance of birth certificates. That could take effect by the start of 2013.
The concealed weapons permitting could commence next July, shortly after the target date for the opening of the Sebring driver's license location.
In an effort to make operations go more smoothly and evenly, Zwayer called for increased collaboration and cooperation between the constitutional officers, noting that agreements with the Highlands County Clerk of Courts and the Highlands County Sheriff's Office had increased the Tax Collector's information technology and security.
Zwayer made what he termed a "paperless presentation," directing commissioners and citizens to his website at www.hctaxcollector.com/ where they could view the entire PowerPoint presentation.
It's All Taxes (by: SebringBob - 10/23/2012)
Revenue. Does he really think that it's like the private sector making and selling a product or service? This in most cases is mandatory theft of taxpayer's money! It's obvious that they are overcharging for everything if they don't really have a use for the fees.
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