Long lines form as locals try to beat tag cost increase this week

-A A +A
By Alice Du Pont

"I've never seen anything like it," said Gadsden County Tax Collector Dale Summerford Monday night.

He was referring to the crowds that swamped his office beginning Aug. 28 to  take advantage of the old tag and license fees that took effect Sept.1, when prices doubled. The office, which usually handles less than 100 people per day, served 750 Monday.

People started gathering outside the office shortly after 7 a.m. The office opens at 8:30 a.m. Helen Hurst was one of the first to arrive at 7:10. She said she wanted to make sure she wouldn't have to wait too long. Others weren't so lucky.

"When I opened the door at 8:30, the line was up to Jefferson Street (about a block away)," Summerford said.

Throughout the day the average waiting time was about 40-45 minutes. Around midday the computer system crashed twice for about 15 minutes each time.

"There was so much activity online that it was overloading the system and affecting the tag offices. The decision was made at the state level to discontinue online so that our offices could serve the customers," the tax collector said.

The system also crashed Friday afternoon for about an hour. Those people, about 500 in number, were also able to get their tags when the system returned to full capacity.

"People were patient and waited their turn. We worked until 6:40 Monday night to make sure we got everybody who was in line served. I'm tickled to death with my staff. Hopefully we saved some people a little money," he said.