Palm Beach County Tax Collector Anne Gannon plans to spend about $5 million to build a new service center on 3.3 acres near the corner of Military Trail and Lake Worth Road west of Lake Worth.
She said the new center, which is expected to take two years to build, is needed to comply with a state requirement that county tax collectors take over responsibility from the state for issuing driver licenses and handling renewals.
Tax-collection services also would be provided at the proposed building, which would lead to the closing of three other government offices in the area — two tax collector offices and one state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles office.
The proposed service center would handle the services currently divided among the state’s driver license office at 571 N. Military Trail west of West Palm Beach and Gannon’s Lake Worth Service Center at 3551 S. Military Trail and Lantana Service Center at 1299 W. Lantana Road.
Gannon’s Lake Worth office handles tax-related matters but not driver licenses, while the Lantana office handles driver licenses and property tax payments.
“Services will be consolidated within this facility creating a full service facility performing all functions …our office is responsible for providing,” Gannon wrote in an email to county officials last week.
Gannon said her office has offered $1.1 million to purchase the 3.3-acre site at 4165 S. Military Trail and she estimates it will cost about $4 million to construct a new building on the property.
County property records show the vacant land is owned by Lake Worth Ventures I, LLC. State corporation records list Michael Falk, Harvey Falk, William Weprin, and Scott Weprin as the company’s managers.
Gannon said her office will pay for the project with fees that it receives for most of the services it provides. She said money for the project will be included in her annual budgets over the next two years.
At the end of each budget year, her office usually turns over any fees it receives in excess of its annual budget to the county, and county officials use those excess fees to help balance the county’s budget at the beginning of each new fiscal year.
Palm Beach County Administrator Bob Weisman said construction of the new building could mean the county will receive less in the coming years.
But Weisman acknowledged that the county-owned building housing the Lake Worth Service Center is “not good” for high-intensity public uses like those offered by Gannon’s office.
“There is no question that the building is inadequate,” Weisman said.
He said once the new service center is complete, the county would modify the Lake Worth Service Center building for other public uses.
County commissioners must agree to the land purchase before it can be finalized. Gannon said she hopes to close on the property by the end of the year.
Tax collectors must take over all driver license services from the state by 2015. Gannon, who started taking over driver licenses in 2010, said the proposed centrally-located service center is the final step in that process for Palm Beach County.
Florida lawmakers ordered driver license services to be shifted from the state county tax collectors to cut state costs.