Polk County Tax Collector's office making changes

By Stephanie Claytor, Reporter
Last Updated: Sunday, March 04, 2018, 5:02 PM EST

People are fed up with long lines at the Polk County Tax Collector’s office. 

  • Changes on the way at the Polk County Tax Collector's office
  • People are fed up with long lines
  • Tax Collector Joe Tedder says offices are seeing more customers

Lines out the door are now common at the Lakeland office.

"I wasn't expecting it,” said Debbie Schwab, who just moved to Winter Haven from Hernando County. “I was shocked.”

Gary Sandow, another customer, said he had to wait two hours to get his driver's license renewed.

"Monday we came and sat two hours and the computers went down and they sent us home,” he said. “This is our second trip up here to do this.”

Tax Collector Joe Tedder blames part of the problem on the statewide system which was down Feb. 26-27.  Tedder said the state has been having issues with the system for months, but it appears to be working now.

He said the other issue is growth. His staff simply can't handle the increasing amount of customers coming in for driver's license services at the four Polk County offices.

"Simple renewals, from 2016, there was about 16,000 to 2017 it was close to 55,000 and we're projected this year to be somewhere around 70,000 to 75,000,” he said.  "And this problem in Polk County, you will see it across the state right now.”

Tedder would like to open two more offices and hire about 80 employees to service both of them, but he said the funding isn’t there.

"We will not be able to grow that capacity to meet the volume unless the state shares more of their fees with the actual provider of these services which are tax collectors across the state,” said Tedder.

Tedder said the tax collector’s office only gets about $6.25 of each driver's license fee.

He's looking at solutions to wait times including eliminating walk-in driver's license services and making them appointment only in the next two to three months. Also, his staff is asking customers more questions at the front door to insure they have the proper paperwork before having to wait inside.

In the meantime, he said customers can reduce their wait time by not coming on Mondays and Fridays and doing their license and tag renewals online or through the mail.