Pinellas Tax Collector to Retire
Diane Nelson has served in the Pinellas County Tax Collector’s office for almost 47 years. She will not seek a fifth term.
PINELLAS COUNTY – Diane Nelson announced today (March 30) that she will retire at the end of this year.
Nelson has served almost 47 years in the Pinellas County Tax Collector’s Office. She is in her fourth term as head of the agency. She is the first woman to have held the office.
“It has been a difficult decision for me because I still love my job and serving the residents of Pinellas County,” Nelson said. “However, my husband decided to retire early next year, and we made this decision together. This is a good time for both of us to start the next leg of our journey.”
Nelson began her career at the Tax Collector’s Office in April 1969. She started on the front lines as a part-time tax collector employee working at the First National Bank in Tarpon Springs. The bank was open on Tuesdays and Thursdays to serve the public in the northern part of the county.
Nelson was promoted to manager of the Clearwater office in 1997. She oversaw the processing of all tax collector mail and hundreds of thousands of phone calls. In 1994, then-Tax Collector Fred Petty promoted her to oversee five offices where all mail and phone operations were placed under her direction. It was then she recognized the need for a dedicated training team to ensure that the public was given correct information consistently. In 2000, after 31 years’ working in the office, she retired so she could run for tax collector.
Her primary campaign promise was to answer phones with real people which she implemented within the first three months of taking office. That’s a practice that continues to this day. Nelson changed the culture of the Pinellas County Tax Collector’s Office by making sure that providing excellent customer service was of paramount importance throughout the organization. She has always been a firm believer that her employees should treat customers the way they would want to be treated by having a professional yet friendly demeanor and by providing excellent service.
Since she has been tax collector, the office has taken on responsibility for all driver license services in Pinellas County, modernized property tax billing and collections, expanded online services, began issuing birth certificates and concealed weapon licenses, grown and modernized tourist development tax collection, become the first self-administering county in Florida to negotiate a deal with Airbnb to collect tourist taxes from its host families, and implemented the Kids Tag Art Pinellas program.
In addition to service expansion, the tax collector team has become actively involved in the Florida Tax Collectors Association. Nelson was chosen by her peers to serve as association president for the 2013/2014 term. During her term, Nelson worked to bring her 15-year vision of partnering with the Department of Agriculture to have her office issue concealed weapons licenses. Nelson’s push to make the association more efficient resulted in the awarding of the 2013 Governor’s Sterling Award for performance excellence.
Nelson said she and her husband are excited to check a few things off their bucket list. They plan on visiting Mount Rushmore, viewing the northern lights, seeing the large redwoods in California, and renting homes in various European countries for a few months so they can mingle with the people and their culture.
“After almost half of a decade of public service, it has been my honor and pleasure to serve the residents of Pinellas County,” Nelson said.
For information about the Pinellas County tax collector, go to taxcollect.com.
Pinellas County Tax Collector | Diane Nelson | Fred Petty | TB Reporter
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