After more than four decades working with the Pinellas County Tax Collector’s office, Diane Nelson is calling it quits.
Nelson – the first woman to head the Tax Collector’s Office – announced Wednesday she will not seek a fifth term and will retire at the end of this year.
“It has been a difficult decision for me because I still love my job and serving the residents of Pinellas County,” Nelson told the Tampa Bay Reporter. “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 tenure April 1969, as a part-time tax collector employee at the First National Bank in Tarpon Springs. At the time, the bank was only open Tuesdays and Thursdays. She became manager of the Clearwater office in 1997, where she oversaw the processing of tax collector mail and fielding phone calls.
Tax Collector Fred Petty promoted her in 1994 to manage all mail and phone operations in five offices. In 2000, after 31 years, Nelson left the collector’s office to run for tax collector.
During her time as the Pinellas tax collector, Nelson’s office has expanded to include responsibility for all driver’s license services in Pinellas County, as well as updated services such as property tax billing and collections, additional online services, birth certificates and concealed weapon permits.
Pinellas County is the first self-administering county in Florida to strike an agreement with Airbnb to collect tourist taxes from hosts, and implemented the Kids Tag Art Pinellas program.
Nelson had served as president of the Florida Tax Collectors Association for the 2013/2014 term, where her efficiency in office earned her the 2013 Governor’s Sterling Award for performance excellence.
In retirement, Nelson and her husband plan to travel, visiting places like Mount Rushmore, the California redwoods and various European countries.
“After almost half of a decade of public service,” she told the Reporter, “it has been my honor and pleasure to serve the residents of Pinellas County.”