Tax Collector returns money to county for 21 years

Historic City News has learned that St. Johns County Tax Collector Dennis W. Hollingsworth, CFC, will present the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners and taxing authorities $5,028,426.34 at its regular meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, October 19th.

The total revenue earned by the Tax Collector’s office is $5,264,847.30. This is the 21st year that the St. Johns County Tax Collector’s office has maintained this level of efficiency.

This $5.028 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 investments, as well as revenue from additional tag and title business the Tax Collector seeks through acquisition of fleet accounts such as UPS and Ring Power.

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. “Despite continuing uncertainty in our economy, I want to assure the taxpayers of St. Johns County that I am determined to stretch every penny in the operation of their Tax Collector’s offices,” Hollingsworth said.

“Increasing efficiency continues to be an annual goal for operation of the Tax Collector’s Office,” Hollingsworth said. “To this end, we strive to be judicious in our budget and strategic planning, maximize our workforce through cross-training and flexible schedules and reduce operating costs so as to maximize the amount of unused revenue we collect and distributing it proportionally to local taxing authorities.

“This is the first time in more than 20 years we have neither matched nor increased the revenue distributed to the taxing authorities,” Hollingsworth added. “However, despite the challenging economy the difference between last year and this year is a reduction of just $512,155.11, or 8 percent.”

The single greatest reduction in revenue is seen in the interest earned on investments. The total earned revenue from interest on investments for the taxing authorities for 2009-2010 is $3,622.56, representing a decrease of $267,697.76 or 98 percent from last year’s earned interest of $271,320.32.

The total amount distributed 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.

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 four senior management positions.
• Reduced three exempt positions in addition to the one reduced in 2008-2009.
• Currently have a total of six part-time positions.

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 partnerships with First Coast Technical College and the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind.
• Fleet renewal services processed 16,888 transactions in 2009, compared 15,599 in 2008
• Remote deposits and staff courier rather than contracted courier service
• Received a third year on our Project Buckle Up grant for FY 2010-2011

Photo credits: © 2010 Historic City News staff photographer

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