Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Computer Eases Wait at Duval Tax Offices Visitors Get Number, Sit Down until Called

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Computer Eases Wait at Duval Tax Offices Visitors Get Number, Sit Down until Called

Article excerpt

At least now, there are seats.

After last year's statewide computer glitches left people fuming while they stood in line for hours at branches of the Duval County Tax Collector's Office, the county is installing a new system that lets people take a number and sit in chairs until their turn comes.

The new setup has not eliminated the waiting period, although officials say the state computer system is working far better. The main change is people can sit down, walk around or even leave to run an errand or get something to eat without losing their place in the pecking order.

So far, the tax office has installed the new setup at the branch office on Atlantic Boulevard near Regency Square mall, and at the 103rd Street office on the Westside. Over the next three weeks, workers will install the Q-Matic system at the San Jose Boulevard office in Mandarin, the University Boulevard office in the Southside and the Commonwealth Avenue branch in northwest Jacksonville. The total cost will be about $260,000.

"This has just added so much organization to the office for the customers," said Paula Peavey, assistant to Tax Collector Lynwood Roberts. "I think we've made a drastic improvement."

"It's definitely faster than what it was last year," said Jacksonville resident John Gilliam while he waited at the Regency-area branch.

He recalled a previous visit when people were standing "like cattle" in the parking lot, uncertain if they were even in the right line for the type of business they needed to conduct.

"You had people cutting in front of the lines and everything else," said Gilliam, who had a 30-minute wait during a more recent visit to the Regency branch.

Here's how the Q-Matic system works: As soon as you walk in the door, you go to a counter that looks like a visitor's information desk. After you say what type of business you want to transact, the clerk will tell you what information and documents are needed, which can save a long wait for naught if you are missing some item. Then you get a card with a number and an estimate for how long you must wait. When your turn comes, the computer-activated announcements will call your number and you will go to the appropriate counter. …

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