By Rachel Christian

Staff Writer

Osceola County officials are eyeing 19 acres of property in Poinciana to act as a possible location of new local government offices, including a tax collector’s branch.

County commissioners recently approved a consent agenda item to begin negotiations about the property, which is currently owned by the New Community Baptist Church and located on the southside of Orange Blossom Trail between Pleasant Hill Road and Ham Brown Road.

Money to purchase the land – situated a mile from the new Poinciana SunRail station – will come primarily from fee revenue generated by the tax collector’s office, County Manager Don Fisher told commissioners.

The Real Property Purchase Agreement will be presented to county commissioners prior to acquiring the property, according to the agenda item.

Lengthy waits and cramped quarters at the Poinciana tax collector’s office spurred current negotiations. At 2,300 square feet, it is the smallest of the department’s four locations, and is hindered by outdated equipment and technology.

The current Poinciana branch – located on Pleasant Hill Road about a mile north of the Poinciana Valencia Campus — is meant to serve the greatest geographical area.

But County Tax Collector Bruce Vickers said residents in Osceola west-side communities like Celebration, Poinciana, Reunion and ChampionsGate, continue to visit the department’s main office to avoid hassles at the Poinciana branch.

“It gets more complaints than any other office,” said Vickers, who was elected to his current position in November 2016 after serving as a department employee for 16 years. “It’s our smallest location, but it is serving the biggest area. There’s no way it can physically handle the amount of people it’s supposed to.”

Vickers reached out to the county repeatedly about the cramped conditions, pointing out that a more spacious location is necessary to accommodate continued growth in the region.

Since property negotiations recently just began, Vickers said he doesn’t know what final plans the county may have for the design and construction of a new facility. He said he’s glad to see progress being made on the issue, even if he does have a few reservations about the property location.

“It’s not exactly where I thought it should be,” Vickers said. “But if the county is going to take care of making sure we have an office that’s good for the taxpayers, then I’m good.”

The county tax collector’s office provides residents with services like driver license and tag renewals, identification cards, replacements for lost or stolen licenses and address changes.

In February, the four Osceola County tax collector offices served over 29,000 residents, according to data provided by the department. Numbers were even higher in January, with more than 32,000 residents processed in a single month.