TAMPA, FL – (April 9, 2018) –Doug Belden shares his concerns regarding the inequities in performing motor vehicle and driver license services for the state. Most people are probably not aware that the tax collector’s office loses approximately $12 for every driver license processed in the tax collector’s office. Currently, Belden states, his office is losing $16 million a year due to unfunded state mandates and that number has and will continue to increase. “It’s just fundamentally wrong to use local tax dollars to subsidize an unfunded state mandate,” said Belden.
Doug Belden believes the state may be violating Article 7 section 8 of the Florida Constitution and has reached out to Attorney, Mr. Barry Richard, an expert in constitutional law, to review his concerns. Mr. Richard has offered to write a legal opinion as well as explore other options which could ultimately benefit Hillsborough County and its constituents.
In 2010, the Florida legislature mandated the closing of DHSMV offices and transferred most of the responsibilities to county tax collectors, which resulted in a significant surge of customer transactions. As a result, tax collectors were faced with the dire need to expand offices and add more staff just to meet customer demands. Unfortunately, the state fees are not nearly enough to cover the costs incurred for conducting business and the local share of fees haven’t changed since 1984. “I don’t know of any business model in the private sector that could be successful without increasing operating fees in 34 years,” Belden said. “I’m not trying to turn a profit, I am simply trying to get our share of state fees to fund these expenditures,” Belden continues to say, “I have no intentions of raising fees to the constituents of Hillsborough County to provide these services.
During the last five years, the tax collector has given back approximately $54 million to Hillsborough County, however, if the Tax Collector’s office would have received their fair share of state fees, Belden estimates $136 million could have been returned to the county which could help local government.