Tax collectors take issue with privatization plan

Published: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 at 03:37 PM.


At an Oct. 17 news conference, Florida ’s 67 tax collectors voiced concerns about proposals that would eliminate the state’s current system for fulfilling mail and online orders at the local level and urged the governor and cabinet to carefully review any proposal to privatize and centralize that function.

In discussions with the tax collectors, Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) Executive Director Julie Jones has been responsive to these concerns and agreed to separate consideration of the distribution method from plans to redesign all vehicle tags.

But the tax collectors want clearer assurances the state will not go to a privatized, centralized distribution system, and offered recommendations that would make the current system more efficient and generate more savings than the proposed changes.

The tax collectors are joined in their concerns by the state’s foremost consumer advocate and a coalition of organizations that fear the new system will fail to meet car purchasers’ and fleet owners’ need for speedy issuance of vehicle tags. In addition, a new report by Capital Analytics,  a policy research company headed by longtime government budget director David Coburn, finds that the plan to issue tags from a centralized location would not produce the savings projected by the state.

“Our issue is not with the change in the plates. Our concern is with the idea of scrapping a system that currently works well for the people of our counties and replacing it with a system that hurts customer service, costs drivers more money and provides no real benefit to the people,” said Leon County Tax Collector Doris Maloy, president of Florida Tax Collectors, Inc. “If the state plans to reissue every tag in Florida within two years, we are prepared to accomplish that with an emphasis on outstanding, local customer service.”

DHSMV recently announced plans to redesign Florida ’s license tags using a flat plate technology, which it says will make the tags more readable by tollbooth and red light cameras.  The department has also proposed turning production and distribution of many tags to a single private company, removing the tax collectors from their public service role distributing convenience tag renewals.

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