Jacksonville, FL — The Duval County Tax Collector’s Office wants to add more services for you- including processing concealed carry permits- but they say they need more staff to make that happen.
As the City Council Finance Committee works through the $1.2 billion City budget proposal from Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, not many departments have asked for much, beyond what the proposal puts forward. During a budget hearing last week, though, the Tax Collector's Office said they need to turn around years of cutbacks.
Chief Administrative Officer Sherry Hall says they had 244 full time positions in 2010, but are down to 226 now, with many of the cuts coming because of the economic downtown. In that same time frame, she says their transaction volume has risen 11%.
“We’re to the point now where, although we’re constantly trying to improve our efficiencies, improve the service level, where we need to slowly start adding back in some of those positions,” Hall says.
Some of those efficiencies have been rolling out ways to help customers not have to even get to an office, in order to lessen that in-person demand. Over the last year, Hall says they’ve seen online transactions triple, because there is no fee for paying your property taxes and other ecommerce transactions.
“It encouraged- which is very useful to us of course- customers to do business online, and hopefully, keep them our of the branches, which is always the goal- to make it more convenient,” she says.
But there is still a lot that gets done in the offices every day.
“Our population is only growing, our transaction volume is only going to continue to grow,” Hall says.
So when they look at adding services, like processing concealed carry permits, Hall says they don’t want to stretch the resources they have. She says procession that can take an average of 45 minutes, so it would have a significant impact on the customer flow for the average Tax Collector’s Office employee.
Her ask to the Finance Committee is four entry level, full-time employees, with salary and benefits landing at $36,976 each. In all, the request is $147,904.
The funding is recurring, though, meaning it would continue in future year budgets, as opposed to being spent on a one-time expense. That's a big reason the Administration didn't include it in their budget proposal, according to Curry's Chief Administrative Officer Sam Mousa. He says they're using extreme caution with recurring expense enhancements, because of concern over a likely revenue shortfall next year, which will be created if Florida residents approve a new homestead exemption in November.
Hall says they would expect a revenue boost to partially offset the hiring costs. She says about 25% of the customers who currently process their concealed carry license through the state, instead go to the Tax Collector, in similar counties who have started processing the permits. While she acknowledged that they can’t necessarily expect that demand in the first year, if the projection holds true, it could mean about $86,549.
The Finance Committee has added Hall’s request to their list of possible budget enhancements, which they will ultimately vote on later on in the review process, before the full Council votes on the proposal ahead of the start of the next fiscal year October 1st.
WOKV continues to work through Curry’s budget proposal and how your tax dollars are being spent. Stay with us as we learn more through the budget hearing process.