Later this summer, Sarasota County residents expected to be able to apply for concealed carry permits at Mid-County Tax Collector’s Office

Tax Collector Ford-Coates provides update as part of her 2023 fiscal year budget presentation to County Commission

Commissioner Christian Ziegler talks with Tax Collector Barbara Ford-Coates during the June 23 budget workshop. News Leader image

A couple of times in recent months, Sarasota County Commissioner Christian Ziegler has bemoaned the fact that the Sarasota County Tax Collector’s Office had won state approval to enable residents to sign up for concealed carry permits; yet, the service still was not being offered.

When long-time Tax Collector Barbara Ford-Coates and two members of her staff appeared before Ziegler and his fellow commissioners for their 2023 fiscal year budget presentation, on June 23, Ford-Coates reported that she hoped the wait was close to an end.

“At long last,” she said, “the [Florida] Department of Agriculture equipment is scheduled to be installed [this week] at the Mid-County [Tax Collector’s] Office,” which is located at 6100 Sawyer Loop Road in Sarasota.

“Several of my staff were in Tallahassee yesterday, receiving the required training,” Ford-Coates added.

Her 2023 fiscal year budget includes funds for one new full-time employee to help handle those permit applications, she noted. That position is one of three in her FY 2023 budget, according to a slide County Administrator Jonathan Lewis showed the commissioners earlier that day.

Ziegler asked when the concealed carry permit service would begin. “I would hope soon,” Ford-Coates replied.

“That’s a big deal for the community,” Ziegler responded. People had been asking him about it for some time, he told her, as people have had a bit of a drive to pursue the permits.

(The Florida Department of Agriculture website says that both the Charlotte County Tax Collector’s Office in Punta Gorda and the Manatee County Tax Collector’s Office in Bradenton accept concealed weapon license applications.)

Ford-Coates reminded him that her staff would just be taking the applications, taking fingerprints and taking photos to send to the Department of Agriculture, which would issue the permits.

This is a portion of the Florida application for a concealed weapon or firearm license. Image courtesy Florida Department of Agriculture

As for the Tax Collector’s Office budget for the next fiscal year, which will begin on Oct. 1: Ford-Coates reminded the board members that the state Department of Revenue has to sign off on it, not them. However, she added, she always appreciates the opportunity to address them during their annual budget workshops, so she can talk about the activities of her staff and answer any questions.

The Tax Collector’s Office preliminary, proposed budget for the 2023 fiscal year totals $10,253,612, according to a slide that Lewis provided for the commissioners in their agenda packet. That is up 6.2%, compared to the 2022 fiscal year budget of $9,651,010.

Tax Collector Barbara Ford-Coates answers a question on June 23. News Leader image

Ford-Coates pointed out during the June 23 workshop that her staff handles more than 1 million transactions a year, which brings in more than $1.2 billion in revenue. Her staff expense per capita in the county “continues to be significantly lower than all other tax collectors on the west coast of Florida,” Ford-Coates said, “and we have the lowest cost per capita in the state” and the second lowest number of employees per capita for a tax collector’s office in Florida.

Last year, Ford-Coates noted, she and her staff turned over $12.3 million to the county — funds that would be called “profit” in the private sector, she emphasized. That amount represented the total revenue that exceeded her office’s expenses, she added. This year, Ford-Coates told the commissioners she anticipates the figure will rise to $14 million.

The county paid her office $2.3 million last year for collecting property tax payments countywide, she noted.

Further, Ford-Coates reported, yet another new employee she will be hiring for the 2023 fiscal year will enable her to expand services from three days a week to five in the office that the City of North Port provides her staff at its City Hall.

Following Ford-Coates’ presentation, Ziegler also told her, “Your office and your employees are fantastic,” adding, “DMVs [divisions of motor vehicles] aren’t the sexiest of topics.” He was referring to the fact that the Tax Collector’s Office also issues driver’s licenses.

When people ask him what they could expect if they moved to Sarasota County, Ziegler continued, one of his top responses is to talk about the services of the Tax Collector’s Office.

Having grown up in Georgia, he said, he had to wait six hours “to get [his] original driver’s license.”

In Sarasota, Ziegler added, “By the time I sit down” in the Tax Collector’s Office, a staff member calls him over for assistance.

“I never hear complaints about you guys,” Ziegler told Ford-Coates, “which is unbelievable, considering how many people you guys touch on an annual basis.”

These are details of the preliminary budgets of the county’s constitutional officers, as shown in the master agenda document for the June 23-24 budget workshops. Image courtesy Sarasota County

“Florida is very fortunate in the way they have structured state government,” Ford-Coates replied: Local offices provide state services. “It’s almost a pleasure when people move here,” she pointed out, “because we know they haven’t had a very good experience somewhere else. It’s fun to surprise them.”

At her office, she added, a person can get a driver’s license, a license plate, registration for a boat and a fishing license.

Then Chair Alan Maio joked with her about the fact that his five grandchildren have joined his three children in needing her office’s services. The members of the Maio family, he continued, “are failing to come up with anything [they can criticize in regard to her staff].”

“Criticism is just an opportunity to improve,” Ford-Coates replied with a smile.

“I’m not going to be able to help you,” Maio responded with a chuckle.

1 thought on “Later this summer, Sarasota County residents expected to be able to apply for concealed carry permits at Mid-County Tax Collector’s Office”

  1. I recently had a good experience transferring a car title when my wife passed away. The clerk was very knowledgeable about the process, and it took very little time.

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