Palm Coast, FL – April 15th is usually the dreaded “Tax Day” in America, but this year it’s ushering in a celebration for the community as Flagler County Tax Collector Suzanne Johnston and her staff welcome residents to the new office in Palm Coast, located in St. Joe Plaza.
The satellite office in Flagler’s most populous city is pretty busy, averaging 70,000 of the county’s 240,000 walk-in transactions each year. Previously housed in a 1200 sq. foot office space for 15 years, Johnston said little by little offices within the old location were commandeered to increase the number of desks for clerks to serve the public’s needs.
“We were sitting shoulder to shoulder with people and it simply was not safe with COVID,” explained Johnston. “We’d been looking for another place and COVID brought it all to a head. We really had no choice.”
Housed in a 3,000 sq. foot space – the same size as the Flagler Beach satellite office, the Palm Coast branch is now in what was formerly home to local bar and grill McCharacter’s.
After the buildout, the location features a tastefully laid out floorplan, and there’s plenty of room to maneuver. In-house work by Flagler County staff, the use of refurbished materials and CARES Act funding helped save money on the move.
“Pretty much all of the renovations were part of the CARES Act that we got reimbursed for,” said assistant tax collector, finance and HR director Rae Nescio.
Analyzing statistics on growth, Nescio said the new location placed the office in a better position to manage the expected influx to Flagler County.
“With the growth in the county and where all the growth is going, this made a lot more sense,” she said.
With a dedicated breakroom for staff, a wall for military license plates, ample storage for future growth, touchscreen testing units, and a quick service walk up window for tag renewals, tax payments, printing of fast titles, disabled parking permits and more, Johnston’s team continues to stay on the cutting edge for accessibility and efficiency when it comes to the tax payer dollar.
“Everybody in the county comes to this office at least once a year,” said Nescio. “We do a lot and I don’t think the public in general realizes what’s involved in the tax collector’s office.”
Putting customer service first, team members like Robbie Walters who transferred over from the Flagler Beach office, said he’s prepared for the rush of business.
“I was working the window over there during tax season,” said Walters, matter-of-factly.
Settling in during the construction phase, the tax collector’s team has made it a mission to get to know their neighbors, and the surrounding businesses are already benefitting from having the office in their plaza, as people stop over to see the work or inquire about services.
“We’ve seen an upbeat in traffic definitely,” said Dick LaPadula, a property manager for St. Joe Plaza. “We hope to see more once they officially open.”
The Flagler County Tax Collector’s Office is hosting a grand opening celebration and block party for the Palm Coast location on April 15th, and hope the public will stop by from 2-5 pm to tour the facility, and take part in the ribbon cutting ceremony around 4:15 pm. Location: 213 St. Joe Plaza, Palm Coast, FL.