HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. – Doug Belden was elected Hillsborough County Tax Collector in November 1998 with a simple goal: to save taxpayer dollars through consolidation and efficiency, while improving service for the public.
After over 20-years of service to Hillsborough County, Doug Belden is retired and will be missed by many.
On January 6th, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said farewell to Doug with a Proclamation, “Today, we recognize 1/6/21 as “Douglas R. Belden Jr. Day” as he retires after over 20-years of service as Hillsborough County Tax Collector. His stellar leadership and dedication will be missed by all residents – please join me in thanks and well wishes for his much-deserved retirement!”
As Tax Collector, Doug pledged to make the Hillsborough County Tax Collector’s office “the most modern and efficient agency in the state of Florida.” Doug truly created a focus on continuous improvement and performance excellence in his organization.
“When Doug Belden was elected Tax Collector some 20 years ago he inherited a very inefficient operation stuck in the past. In a very short period, he transformed the tax collectors office into a “Well oiled machine” saving taxpayers money while winning awards along the way. Doug truly exemplifies a good public servant and Hillsborough County is a better place as a result of his years of service,” said Steve Swindal, Chairman of Port Tampa Bay.
Doug maintained a customer satisfaction rate of over 96% for over a decade and operates a call and payment processing center with outcomes comparable to the national level best in class performers.
In 2004, Doug and his leadership team adopted the Sterling Management System, which is the state-level equivalent of the Malcolm Baldrige national quality program. In 2008, the organization was a recipient of the Florida Governor’s Sterling Award for Performance Excellence – making his office the first county tax collector in the state and the first government organization in Hillsborough County to achieve this prestigious honor.
Former Florida State Senator Tom Lee said, “Doug Belden was a model of a public servant. He never stopped working to improve the efficiency of his office and the customer experience. There is no better role model for what it means to serve the public.”
In 2011, the Tax Collector’s office received the Governor’s Sterling Sustained Performance Excellence Award for continuing to serve as a role model for the public sector in Florida.
“When you think of a public servant that put the customer first, ran an efficient office, modernized delivery services, and returned tax payer money to the government coffers you are talking about retired Hillsborough County Tax Collector Doug Belden. Doug was totally immersed in his job as Tax Collector. He will be missed. Enjoy your retirement my friend. You earned it,” said former Florida Governor Bob Martinez.
The Hillsborough County Tax Collector’s office received the Florida Tax Collector’s Excellence in Financial Operations Award in 2011 and 2012. This award is granted to Tax Collectors in the state that demonstrates the highest proficiency and expertise in the areas of Innovation and Automation, a Perfect Annual Audit Report, Customer Focus, and Budgeting.
In 2013, Doug received the Madison “Matt” Langley Bell III Award. This coveted award was established in honor of the late Matt Bell III, former Escambia County Tax Collector, and is presented to state Tax Collectors that have made a significant and lasting impact on the Florida Tax Collectors’ Association and citizens of Florida. Doug’s peers honored him with this distinguished award for his innovative ideas, his volunteer spirit, and his dedication to making government services better in the state of Florida.
“Doug Belden’s career in public service has been etched in history as one of the best administrators as a Tax Collector in our county and the state. His leadership in the state organization earned accolades and awards for his strong principles and ability to find efficiencies in the office and provide stellar customer service. His legacy will be that of always working with both sides to achieve the very best results for our taxpayers. He is loyal and has deep roots and friendships in the Tampa Bay area- I will always admire his service to our citizens,” said Former County Commissioner Sandy Murman.
Doug is only the fourth Tax Collector in Florida to receive the award since it was established in 1999.
Doug’s’ list of awards from over the years include:
• Tiger Bay Lifetime Achievement Award, 2020
• Governor Bob Martinez Good Government Award Recipient, 2016
• Ellsworth G. Simmons Good Government Award Recipient, 2014
• Florida Tax Collector’s Association Matt Langley Bell Award, 2013
• Governor’s Sterling Award for Sustained Performance Excellence, 2011
• Governor’s Sterling Award for Performance Excellence, 2008
• Governor’s Sterling Quality Achievement Award for Visionary Leadership, 2006
• Florida Tax Collector’s Legislative Award, 2000
Doug’s longtime friend Elizabeth Hapner added, “Doug Belden significantly upgraded the services of the Tax Collector’s Office through his innovative and money-saving ideas. Through his 22 years in office, many other public servants followed his example and his guidance. I was honored for be present when he received the 2008 Matt Bell III award from the Florida Tax Collector’s Association, the 2014 Ellsworth G. Simmons Good Government award from Hillsborough County and the 2020 Lifetime Achievement award from the Tampa Tiger Bay Club, all of which are just examples of the awards received for the efficiency and customer service he instilled during his tenure.”
Former Tampa City Mayor Pam Iorio said, “It’s so important that people who run these county offices are very capable and that they are good with finances, know how to stretch the dollar, innovative, customer service oriented, and to make sure the taxpayers are always getting the best possible service in the most cost-efficient way.”
“Doug gets an ‘A’. He ran an exemplary Tax Collector’s office for all of those years and I think that the best compliment and what really adds to Doug’s story, is that someone that worked so closely with him, is now the Tax Collector,” said Iorio.