A taxing move: Marco Island tax office closing for renovations
Marco Islanders will find dealing with the tax collector’s office a little more “taxing” for the next couple of months.
Friday was the last day of operations for Collier County Tax Collector Larry H. Ray’s Marco Island office on Winterberry Drive before it closed for two months of renovations and remodeling. Employees were packing up their workstations, and the 100-plus specialty license plates had been taken down from the walls.
While the office is closed, Marco Islanders will be able to go to the department’s temporary offices next to the library, for most but not all of the services they provide. Tax office staff will still deal with property tax payments, vehicle registrations, hunting and fishing licenses, but driver license and birth certificate services will not be available on Marco during the approximately eight-week remodel.
“Those work off a state server, and that won’t be connected at the library,” said Marco Island tax office manager Sarah Clayton. The Marco office has never offered road tests, but does provide a place for license renewals, and copies of – Florida only – birth certificates.
All services will be available at the department’s numerous other locations, according to each office’s regular menu of offerings. The closest office is in the Shops at Eagle Creek, at the corner of Coller Boulevard and East Tamiami Trail. In all, the tax collector has 11 offices open to the public throughout Collier County.
Clayton was enthusiastic about the renovations about to get underway.
“We’re excited,” she said. “You’re not going to believe your eyes after we get done.”
The building housing the Marco tax office has been there since 1975, said Deputy Tax Collector Rob Stoneburner, and has been the tax office since 1985. It was time for it to be spruced up. The new office, he said, would be much more convenient for members of the public coming there, and provide an improved and safer working space for office staff.
“We have elevated workstations now. That’s what started the whole thing,” said Stoneburner. “Employees have pushed back their chairs and fell off, or twisted their ankle.” The new setup, said Clayton, will be fully ADA-compliant, important on an island with a large senior population.
It will also allow for the public a comfortable waiting area as they are in line for services, with the ability to sit down rather than stand in line, thanks to a number system similar to a supermarket deli counter.
“There’s no lobby waiting area now. Nobody knows who is next,” said Stoneburner.
The remodel will also encompass a new ceiling grid, new A/C ductwork, repainting, and new flooring, which Clayton said would be carpet tiles, with the ability to replace the tiles individually if one is damaged.
Total cost for the project is budgeted at $195,326, and the general contractor is Build LLC of Naples. The tax office recently completed a much larger renovation at their headquarters in the Collier County Government Center, which cost over $1.5 million. Stoneburner took the lead as liaison for that project, as he will for the Marco renovation.
In a way, the office is coming full circle by moving into space at the Marco Island library. Before it was the tax office, the Winterberry office was the county’s Marco library branch, said Clayton. Just three minutes up the road on South Heathwood Drive, the temporary tax office will have the same hours they have normally operated, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Stoneburner hopes to finish ahead of the scheduled October 23 date, and will reopen the regular office as soon as the work is completed. It is key for the department to get the work done before “property tax season,” which runs from November through March, he said.
Perhaps the best thing about the Marco Island tax office is its address, 1040 Winterberry Drive.
“Yes, that number is certainly connected with taxes,” said Stoneburner, although as he pointed out, income taxes are one area of taxation the county tax collector has nothing to do with.