Rob Reed is tired of government not making the changes that need to be made to operate more efficiently. That's why he's promised to cut his pay as Highlands County's next Tax Collector by 25 percent.
Reed, a CPA, said his experience is in turning businesses around and that he'll ask the Legislature to reduce his wages. If they won't, he'll rebate the money back to the county. He said it's time for government to trim budgets and get to work for voters.
Why do you want to be the next Tax Collector for Highlands County?
The simple answer is that I want to make a difference. I think all of us in business know that we're going through some tough times and I'm particularly tuned into that because I'm in the real estate business. A lot of people are having to sell their homes or lost their jobs. Unemployment is higher and higher.
For years on the federal state, and even on the local levels, spending is out of control. I have a long career in bean counting and some of my past has been focused on taking troubled companies and turning them around. I'd like to see if I can make a difference.
The tax collector's office is more of a business office and customer service related office, but it still can be influential. My focus would be to continue the same legacy as Charles Bryan and keep the same customer focus. We'd all say he did an unbelievably good job in that regard but I'd also like to squeeze the nickel a bit and reduce the spending.
What would the public notice in the office if you're elected?
There are some things that people tuned into government would see right away. I would dissolve the position called the assistant tax collector position. It's working fine without a highly paid assistant position. The second thing I'd do is I would start attending the county commission meetings and if they called for a report from the tax collector's office I'd give one. And it wouldn't be a long drawn out deal but give them an idea of what's going on, goals, progress, personnel. Just a five-minute report. Another thing I would change is the transparency of the office. The financial statements would be open to the public. There's nothing to hide and it's time for sweeping change in what government does for us. We're going to open it up.
How would you describe your management style?
I'm a manager that tries to set objectives and work with a team. I'm not an autocrat. You're only as good as the people around you. I'm not going to come in and make sweeping changes before knowing what's going on. I would want to meet with all the managers and employees and make sure everyone knows the objectives. They will know soon I'm easy going and friendly, but I like to get work done and objectives handled. We're going to be all about business. We're going to reduce spending without reducing fine customer service.
Why are you the best candidate?
Right now we need people in public office who have business experience. I have a combination of experience and education. I bring to the table some in-depth knowledge how to manage people and integrate plans and make companies profitable. There are some great candidates. I have a lot of good things to say about all of them. I've got the business experience I can bring to bear.
This is kind of controversial but one of my campaign platforms is I want to try to influence our local government to cut money. Times are tough. A lot of people and businesses are in trouble. We have to learn how to schedule people, freeze salaries and roll back some. It's time that our elected leaders step up. And so about a month ago I announced I'm going to cut my pay 25 percent. I was told I couldn't do that. That's the Legislature's decision and it's illegal. Well, it's not illegal. The salary is set by the Legislature and I don't know if they can change the salary. If they say no, I'll have to rebate 25 percent, less the federal tax, back to the tax collector's office. I'm taking a stand. I'm cutting my pay. A lot of people who don't know me think it's a political ploy. It's not.