Private Beacon Agency Poster Attacks Volusia’s Incoming Collector
A private label agency is taking its fight against incoming tax collector Will Roberts to the public with a website and signs featuring an unflattering photo of Roberts and a pun on his name: “Where’s Will . There is a wait.
Jason Strochak, CEO and owner of Volusia Tag Agency, sued Roberts last month saying the new tax collector was interfering with his business while planning to force him out of business in Volusia County. Strochak has three private agency offices in South Daytona, Ormond Beach and Deltona. The lawsuit is on the role of Circuit Judge Kathryn Weston.
Strochak’s placards depict a huge line of fat people with the words in increasingly larger print: “Will Roberts = Bigger Govt!” More taxes! Bigger lines!”
Strochak also has a website at willrobertstaxcollector.com featuring the same image and message and directing people to a change.org petition that reads “Stop ‘waiting time’ Will Roberts wasting your tax dollars to enlarge its offices and lengthen your wait times. Keep the label agencies private in Volusia County!”
By Friday afternoon, 619 people had signed the petition, which aims for a target of 1,000 signatures.
“The panels and website are created by the same person who recently filed a lawsuit against me,” according to an emailed statement from Will Roberts. “For now, I will withhold any comments on this and let their actions speak for themselves.”
Strochak said his marketing people made the signs and he doesn’t know where they got Roberts’ photo from.
But the photo on the signs and Strochak’s website apparently comes from one of Roberts’ social media accounts in which Roberts posed after running the Shark Bite 5k race in New Smyrna Beach, his wife, Jennifer Roberts said. , owner of Backporch Communications.
Strochak said forcing it to close would only hurt Volusia County. He said residents and car dealers prefer the convenience and speed of his service at his branches, even if they have to pay a small fee.
And he said his private label offices call business from outside Volusia County.
“I take care of car dealerships that I bring in from outside the region. Volusia County wouldn’t have had this case,” Strochak said.
The News-Journal called several Volusia County auto dealerships and a Seminole County dealership for comment, but did not receive a response.
But in his statement, Roberts said tax collectors cannot charge additional fees.
“State law determines what shall be charged to customers for services. Tax collectors have no authority to continue to charge additional fees currently assessed by the private beacon agency,” according to the Roberts statement.
Roberts also said in the statement that “when I take office in January, I will implement a model for the Tax Collector’s Office that will provide convenient locations and superior customer service at no additional cost.”
Changing a constitutional officer serving as tax collector will increase the office’s budget, according to the county. Some tax collection work will remain with the county and that will add $1,011,996 to the county budget, according to an email from county spokesman Kevin Captain.
The budget for the Oct. 1-Jan. 4 tax collection work that will be supported by the tax collector is $1,693,264, according to the email.
The estimated budget for this work from January 5 to September 30, 2021 will be $3,555,075. The tax collector’s budget is skewed by the cost of large software licenses due at the start of the fiscal year, according to the email.
The elected tax collector will also face legal bills as the battle between him and Strochak continues.
Strochak disputed a previous statement by Roberts that people traveled to Seminole County because they were unhappy with his agency’s service.
“I’ll tell you, I haven’t recorded a single complaint from a Volusia County resident,” Strochak said.
Strochak, who owns about 20 private beacon offices statewide, said Roberts’ plan to shut it down was a political reward. Strochak financially backed Roberts’ opponent David Santiago in the race for the tax collector.
Strochak’s various beacon-related companies contributed $14,000 of $1,000 to Santiago’s unsuccessful campaign. These contributions represented approximately 30% of Santiago’s campaign war chest of approximately $45,000.
Strochak said he gave to Santiago because he loved Santiago and the Santiago campaign asked for his support. He said Roberts didn’t ask for support, but if he did, Strochak would have given him the money as well.
For his part, Roberts denied that there was any political reward in his decision.
Sylvia R. Talevich, a paralegal in the office of Timothy R. Qualls who represents Roberts, sent a previous email stating that private tax collection agencies operate at the discretion of each county’s tax collector.
And the agreement between Volusia County and the state Department of Highway and Motor Vehicle Safety specifies that a new agreement would be required each time a new tax collector is appointed or elected.
The Florida legislature sets the fees tax collectors can charge for title and registration and a private tax agency does not have the authority to charge fees that the tax collector cannot charge, according to the e-mail from Talevich.
Strochak disputed that, saying private beacon agencies in other parts of the state, including his own, had been operating and charging convenience fees for years.
“That’s not true,” Strochak said of the claim that extra charges are prohibited. “Show us the case law. It would be a discussion with DHSMV, not the county office, and DHSMV is not involved in this.
Regardless of the legal battle between Roberts and Strochak, Volusia County told Strochak’s attorney in a letter dated Nov. 9 that the county would not have the authority to issue license plates after Jan. 5.
Assistant County Attorney Heather J. Wallace wrote in the letter that Roberts had rejected the assignment of the county’s contract with Strochak and that the existing contract would become void due to “impossibility of performance,” meaning that it is not possible to perform the contract.
Wallace also wrote that “there is no doubt that the county has the ability to terminate the contract unilaterally, and the effect is the same as the impossibility.”
Strochak said in a phone interview that only the city council or county executive could cancel his contract.
The county received $919,000 in service fees for 2019 from Strochak’s private beacon agency, but a county spokesperson previously said the county would be entitled to that money regardless of who handled it. the transaction.
Strochak disputed this.
“Even if it were true, that’s a million dollars they get for free,” he said. “I provide them with a million dollars in net income. They have no expenses.”