Tax collector returns $5.27 million in fees


Historic City News was watching this morning as St. Johns County Tax Collector Dennis W. Hollingsworth returned $5.77 million to the Board of County Commissioners; representing excess fees collected by his office.

Hollingsworth joined the St. Johns County Tax Collector’s Office in 1978 as a field inspector and title clerk. He was elected St. Johns County Tax Collector in 1984, and has served as Tax Collector since that time.

This $5.27 million represents unused revenue the Tax Collector’s office earned for the taxpayers of St. Johns County that was not expended or used in the operation of the local tax, tag and driver license offices.

The Tax Collector’s office is self-sustaining, operating from monies regulated by Florida Statutes on commissions from the collection of taxes and fees for the mandated State functions of several agencies. These agencies include: the Department of Revenue; the Division of Motor Vehicles; and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The excess revenues also include interest earned from wise investments made by the tax collector.

The unused revenue Hollingsworth has collected over the past year is a result of the tax and tag offices operating with frugality and efficiency. Hollingsworth said he is honored to serve the taxpayers of St. Johns County by managing their Tax Collector’s office in a fiscally responsible manner. “As our economic outlook continues to be uncertain, I want to assure the taxpayers of St. Johns County that I am determined to make every penny count in the operation of their Tax Collector’s offices,” Hollingsworth said.

The major portion of the refund ($4,756,773.94) will go to the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners since it is one of the largest taxing authorities. The other taxing authorities benefiting from this revenue are:
St. Johns Mosquito Control $31,170.61
St. Johns River Water Management District $97,797.10
St. Augustine Airport $39,940.75
Hastings Drainage $ 132.03
Flagler Estates $ 9,950.78
School Debt $39,985.31
Ponte Vedra Municipal Service District $ 4,816.59
Florida Inland Navigational District $ 8,114.77
St. Augustine Port, Waterway & Beach District $ 3,877.91
Julington Creek Plantation CDD $49,812.94
St. Augustine Fire Assessment $ 6,793.37
St. Augustine Yacht Basin $ 533.00
Marshall Creek CDD $42,049.90
Sampson Creek CDD $15,576.75
Brandy Creek CDD $10,737.87
St. Johns Forest CDD $ 7,931.50
Turnbull Creek CDD $25,111.06
Heritage Park CDD $ 7,516.69
Heritage Landing CDD $26,229.86
Lake Beluthahatchee CDD $ 368.59
World Commerce CDD $ 7,492.40
Aberdeen CDD $16,425.39
Durbin Crossing CDD $22,305.51
Tolomato CDD $24,437.16
Glen St. Johns CDD $ 2,350.18
Rivers Edge CDD $ 2,866.05
Sweetwater Creek CDD $ 6,069.06

“One of our annual goals is to increase our efficiency in operating the Tax Collector’s Office. As a result we try to be judicious in our budget and strategic planning, and thereby maximize the amount of unused revenues the state requires us to collect by distributing it proportionally to local taxing authorities. We have been able to match, if not increase, the revenues most of the years since I have had the opportunity to serve as Tax Collector,” Hollingsworth said.

This refund amount is an estimate because more monies are generated by the office and received throughout the year from other State agencies, such as mobile home revenues received from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and revenues from Retained Vessel Fees which are distributed weekly by the Tax Collector’s office.

The total earned revenue from interest on investments for the taxing authorities by the Tax Collector’s Office for St. Johns County for 2008-2009 was approximately $271,320.32.

The total revenue earned by the St. Johns County Tax Collector’s Office was $5,777,002.41. This is the 20th year that the St Johns County Tax Collector’s office has maintained this level of efficiency.

Improved efficiency is evident in the work of the St. Johns County Tax Collector and his management team as they continue to review the office’s operational structure with an emphasis on service to the citizens of St. Johns County. Recently, the office:

-Reorganized our management structure – reduced one exempt position.

-Reassigned employees based on their job skills and abilities (reduced three full-time positions, equal to a five percent reduction in staff)

-Reduced two positions to 32 hours

-Made changes designed to more effectively manage our customer service operations that allow the staff to provide a level of service the citizens of St. Johns County have come to expect.

These are just a few of the adjustments your Tax Collector’s office has made; however, we continue to expand our Customer Services to the citizens of St. Johns County, including the following recent additions:

-Road tests by appointment at Dupont Center, Julington Creek and Ponte Vedra

-Driver education partnership with St. Johns Technical High School

-Fleet renewal services providing 15,699 transactions in 2008, equal to $3.7 million

-Remote deposits – Check 21 program rather than contracted courier service

-Received a second year on our Project Buckle Up grant for FY 2009-2010

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