By B.C. Manion
Mike Olson, Pasco County’s tax collector since 1981, died on June 26, three days after suffering a massive stroke.
Gov. Rick Scott will name a successor to fill Olson’s post until 2014 when voters choose a successor to complete his unexpired term. They will vote again in 2016 to fill the seat for a four-year term.
John Tupps of Scott’s press office said last week that a timetable had not been set for naming Olson’s successor.
Olson served as the county’s tax collector since 1981 — holding the office longer than any other tax collector in Florida. He was also the sole Democrat to hold a county office in Pasco, and he assumed that office after a six-year stint on the Pasco County Commission.
Attorney Clyde Hobby, a longtime friend of Olson, described him as a meticulous man who cared deeply about public service.
During Olson’s tenure on the county commission, the county introduced zoning laws and began providing water, sewer, fire and rescue services, Hobby said.
As tax collector, Olson was ahead of the curve in adopting efficient standards for his office, Hobby added.
“He implemented computer services before most tax collectors in the state knew what a computer was,” Hobby said.
He began selling driver’s licenses long before the state began requiring tax collectors to do so, Hobby said. And, in the days before he died, he told Hobby that Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley had informed him that 65 percent of the new voters in Pasco County came through the tax collector’s office.
Olson took customer service seriously and routinely read all of the hundreds of comment cards that came into his office. On more than one occasion, he disciplined employees based on information he developed after first learning about an incident through a comment card, Hobby said.
Shortly before his death, Olson was actively seeking new locations in Central Pasco and East Pasco to improve services for customers.
Pasco County Commissioner Pat Mulieri said, via email, that she knew Olson since about 1990.
“He was all about tending to residents’ needs,” Mulieri said, noting she or her assistant called him frequently, and he was always helpful.
One of the biggest issues came up when identification requirements changed for driver’s licenses, Mulieri said. She recalled an instance when a 92-year-old veteran had a problem because his first name didn’t match on his documents. One call to Olson resolved the problem, the county commissioner said.
Olson came from a family with deep roots in service to others, Hobby said. His grandfather was a school board member and his late mother, Mitttye P. Locke, was a longtime principal who has an elementary school named for her in New Port Richey.
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