What You Should Know Before You Vote!
Retiring employees are being brought back as independent contractors - indicating a lack of succession planning in key positions
The current Tax Collector makes an inordinate amount of trips to Tallahassee, always with at least one, and on occasions two traveling companions, resulting in large bills to the taxpayer. There is usually a standing reservation at the Double Tree hotel the 1st three (3) months of each year when the legislation is in session.
I remind you that the Tax Collector position is that of an administrator and not a legislator or lobbyist. As a long-time insider of the Tax Collector's office, it is my view that the vast majority of these trips, as many as 90%, are unnecessary, and the traveling companions are completely unnecessary.
The business accomplished for our county on these trips can be accomplished for the most part with phone and/or conference calls at a savings of many thousands of YOUR Taxpayer dollars per year.
1- After 38 years, there certainly should have been a person(s) being trained and mentored to assume this position. The institutional knowledge should have been passed on long before the nearing of retirement. Why didn't this happen?
2- The Tax Director has advised several employees that she will be returning to the office in January 2021. How can this employee return 6 months later? This is less than the one (1) year mandatory requirement of the FRS (Florida Retirement System).
3- At what rate of pay will this employee be brought back, though such return is a violation of the Florida Retirement System regulations? Current records available to the public would indicate her salary level in excess of $99,000
4- The IRS has very stringent regulations regarding the conditions that constitute a true independent contractor as opposed to an employee. The penalties for violating those regulations are rather stiff. How can we be sure that the same person, doing the same job in the same office for the same boss, will suddenly have the independence required to fulfill the requirements of those regulations?
5- Will even more taxpayer dollars be wasted to hire another outside Staffing company to manage the payroll of this purported "independent contractor"?
UPDATE - post-2020 election: Tax Director retires, collects 6 months retirement, 7th-month thru 12th-month retirement checks stop, gets rehired for a new position the Tax Collector creates for her at a high salaried exempt position. 13th-month this employee can start collecting her retirement checks again and a nice big salary.
The Tax Director retires June 2020, after 38+ years
The Finance Director is in DROP (deferred retirement option program) with a mandatory requirement to retire in less than 5 years
1- The Finance Director is also alleged to be planning to return to the Tax Collector's office as an Independent Contractor after retiring. Why?
2- Who is being mentored currently, in all capacities of this position to ensure the valuable institutional knowledge is being passed on?
3- At what rate of pay will this employee be brought back, though such return is a violation of the Florida Retirement System regulation (if less than one (1) year)? Current records available to the public would indicate her current salary level in excess of $106,000
4- The Finance Director is now permitted to work from home two (2) days a week. This approach, while novel and innovative, has not been shown to improve service to the taxpayers. Additionally, this employee is a supervisor of (5) five employees, and cannot provide supervision remotely. Forty percent of the time this department is left unsupervised under this plan.
5- Has the home been secured to receive and transmit sensitive data of the taxpayers and Tax Collector's office? AND, if so, at what cost to the taxpayer?
6- The Finance Director is a licensed CPA and also has at least two (2) known active businesses on the side. What safeguards are in place to assure the taxpayers that work-from-home time is spent solely on the people's business? When working from home, is work also being conducted for the personal businesses?
When I become your next Tax Collector...
1- There will not be a need for employees to return as independent contractors. Mentoring & cross training will take place immediately in all positions. This will be key to ensuring the institutional knowledge will be passed on, as well as giving morale building opportunities to newer employees yielding long term employment and retention.
2- Promotions will be considered based on experience, job performance and overall ability to do the job, not appearance or popularity.
3- A real SUCCESSION PLAN will be in place for all key management positions. This will include even the Tax Collector's position. It is an elected position and no direct knowledge of the office is required to be voted in to this office. However, there will be a competent professional being mentored and groomed. So when the time comes for change, you will have a knowledgeable and prepared professional that you would be comfortable in voting for.
4- No employee, especially NOT a member of management will be permitted to work from home. The Tax Collector's office is a service office and there are times when the office is extremely busy on a moment's notice. In those times, ALL STAFF (this especially includes management) should be attentive to assisting where needed to ensure the office runs smoothly, customers are waited on promptly, and coverage provided for employees to receive much needed breaks, etc., which also builds and maintains a TEAM environment.
5- Management positions in the tax office are without a doubt a fulltime job. The salaries for these positions should be in line with the responsibilities/duties of the positions. Second outside jobs may be a distraction to the commitment of the employee's primary obligation to the Tax Collector's office and may be discouraged or prohibited where appropriate.
The Double Tree, Tallahassee - the hotel of choice for the current Tax Collector
The Hampton, Tallahassee - My hotel of choice as your future Tax Collector (only when trips are a must)
Image taken from Tax Collector Facebook page
In Service Days - local Tax Collector offices closed to the public
In-Service days are when a public office closes to the public for business and employees still report to work. The primary purpose for an in-service day is to provide much needed training to staff that cannot take place during normal working hours. The employees are paid their normal rate of pay and lunch would be on their own.
Prior to the current administration, in-service days were not required because employees weren't leaving at the record pace they are now.
The first in-service day by the current Tax Collector was held in October 2016. All department managers were required to conduct training on areas of concern pertaining to their departments. I coordinated that training prior
to leaving the Tax Collector's office in November 2016.
The future in-service days at the Tax Collector's office appear to be more of costume parties than training. The employees should not be looked upon negatively for their participation. They are only following the instruction of the leadership. Here are examples of the In-Service days since 2016:
NOTE: (all photos were retrieved from Facebook & Tax Collector's Facebook page)
An important FACT about the Tax Collector's office that you may not know...
The Tax Collector's Office & Property Appraiser's office are the only two (2) elected offices out of the five (5) constitutional offices that DO NOT report to the local Board of County Commission. Both of these offices report to and their budgets are approved by the Florida Department of Revenue (per FL statute). In other words, there isn't any actual local oversight of the Tax Collector's office.
The highest employee turnover in the history of the Tax Collector's office has happened under the current administration. In 2009, the Tax Collector's office had a staff of 46. The current Tax Collector was appointed to the office by the Governor in January 2009 after a special local election process never heard of before (she actually lost the 2008 election to Stan Mayfield, also a Republican who died before taking office).
As of 2020, the employee # has increased to 68. Over 105
employees have left that office in the 11 years since the Tax Collector took office. That means nearly double the employees budgeted for that office have left. I was employee #61 to leave in 2016. Why are the employees leaving a job with benefits, good pay and retirement?
Update: 4/2/20 - a 6+ year employee (in the position of HR/Payroll Administrator) resigned and another employee just gave notice. WHY?
The current inequities taking place in your Tax Collector's office
More inequities taking place in your Tax Collector's office...
The important questions that should be asked of the current administration...
With the highest amount of turnover in the history of the tax office, and all of the institutional knowledge that has left the office; why would so much work go into themed over the top costume parties rather than the much needed training?
What was learned from crayon coloring the turtle and how can that be applied in the frontline employees responsibilities?
Who paid for all of these expenses; food, decorations, games & coloring material, paper products for the food, etc.? According to the strict rules of the Department of Revenue, in which the Tax Collector's office reports to; the office is not even permitted to buy coffee or donuts for customers?
How much valuable training was actually completed?
Who is in charge of Human Resources, and were they present during some of these very suggestive activities?
There are many other ways to provide team building workshops/activities that are far more appropriate than stuffing balloons down pants.
With what is required of a new hire to learn in order to issue or renew a driver's license, among so many other areas of importance; intense training is a must. Closing the office to the public for an entire day only to spend this time in the manner that it has been shown, is a huge disservice to the employees and the public.
And... after all of that, the staff still needs additional training. So now the office is closed to the public every Wednesday an additional half hour for training. What can really be accomplished in a half hour at the cost of inconveniencing the taxpayer?
Employee retention will be my number one priority
The in house training program that previously existed will be re-implemented immediately
There will be multiple qualified trainers to ensure the most current information is being passed on consistently to all staff
New hires will not be placed on the frontline until certain criteria has been met
If there should be a need to close the office for an In-Service day, I can assure you that it will consist of intense training and not a costume party
More inequities taking place in your Tax Collector's office...
Let's go to Lunch on the Taxpayer's Dime...
On a monthly basis the current Tax Collector attends all Taxpayer Association lunches, Indian River County & Sebastian Chamber lunch meetings.
While this is well and good as an elected official to attend these luncheons to represent the office in which they are elected. However, is there a necessity to have an entourage of employees in attendance also, at the expense of taxpayers?
= Tax Collector
This may appear to be a petty concern to post about until you do the math...
The combined salaries of the 3 employees and the Tax Collector = $165 hourly (close estimate)
They average 3 hours out of the office for each of these lunches = $495 per lunch in salaries
There is a total of 3 monthly lunches = $1,485 monthly in salaries
Which totals $17,820 annually just in salaries to attend these lunches. How is the tax office benefiting from their attendance?
AND you the taxpayer are paying for the memberships and the lunches...
Annual membership for 3 employees to Taxpayer's Association = $75
Lunches = $960 annually What is the necessity of 3 memberships?
Annual Membership to two Chambers = $1,385 (close estimate)
Lunches =$1,060 annually (close estimate) Why should taxpayer money be used to provide these monthly meals?
So when you do the math (close estimate) $21,225.00 annually of taxpayer money is being spent wastefully. That is around the cost of a frontline employee's starting salary.
The most disturbing part of this is that the frontline clerks in any of the offices (with the exception of the newly opened beach office) rarely get an hour lunch on a regular basis because of the busyness of the offices. And, the supervisor over these frontline clerks is always out to lunch with the Tax Collector.
NOTE: No other Indian River County Elected Official brings numerous employees to any of these lunch meetings.
The "out of office for lunches with staff" also includes monthly partisan lunches at 3 different Republican clubs that also last 2-3 hours out of the office. The Tax Collector and employees are using their Tax Collector office emails for communications with these partisan clubs.
As a matter of ethics, the Tax Collector's office should not have any association with partisan clubs and tax office email accounts should not be used for correspondence to and from these clubs. The Tax Collector's office is not a Republican or Democratic office. It is the office of the people of Indian River County.
Unnecessary liability to the County
Agriculture Commissioner Candidate Denise Grimsley, guest speaker
friend of the Tax Collector
Not only does the Tax Collector have an employee entourage, she also includes a friend to be transported to the Taxpayers Lunch meetings in the county owned vehicle. Which, exposes the county to an unnecessary financial burden should there be an accident.
Tax Collector employee
= Tax Collector
When I become your next Tax Collector...
When I become your next Tax Collector...
I believe as an elected official, the presence in our community is important. I will continue to attend the Taxpayers & Chamber monthly luncheons as I currently do as a citizen. I want to be informed. However, as your next Tax Collector, I will pay for my own lunches and memberships.
Having worked at the Tax Collector's office, I can assure you that there is no need for excessive employee attendance at these lunches or the reason for numerous memberships. These are wonderful organizations that serve our community well and my presence at these luncheons would be to make myself available should there be questions pertaining to the Tax Collector's office. I can also attend these lunches without the necessity or cost of an employee entourage.
I am a Republican and member of two Republican clubs that hold monthly lunch meetings. I will continue to attend these meetings. Tax Collector employees will never be requested to attend these meetings with me. If ever a request is made to represent the Tax Collector's office as a guest speaker, I would certainly permit an employee to attend to share their expertise in the office. I would then extend an offer to any other partisan club that would have an interest in our presentation.
My Tax Collector office email account will never be used for personal business!
I will use my own vehicle for these lunch meetings and the office/county vehicle will only be used for office related business. I will not permit a non-employee to ride in any office vehicle.
This is a fluid page and will continue to be updated with more important information that you should know before you vote! Please check back!
Never in a hurry to get back to the office after lunch
HIGHEST TURNOVER IN HISTORY OF TAX COLLECTOR'S OFFICE UNDER THE CURRENT TAX COLLECTOR (105 employees in 11 years, came into office with 46 employees and currently there are 60 employees)
UPDATE: post-election 2020- employee resignations still rising, March 2021- two employees leave/walk out within a week!
NUMEROUS EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) COMPLAINTS
POTENTIAL LAWSUIT THAT COULD COST TAXPAYERS THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS
POLITICALLY MOTIVATED WASTEFUL SPENDING & BRANDING
NO REAL SUCCESSION PLAN FOR MANAGEMENT
EXCESSIVE UNNECESSARY TALLAHASSEE TRIPS FOR POLITICAL GRANDIZING
NO ACTUAL EXPERIENCED HR PROFESSIONAL EMPLOYED