In 2017, Manatee County residents will no longer have to leave the county to apply for or renew licenses to carry concealed weapons.
Instead, they will be able to head to Manatee County Tax Collector’s new Driver License Office, 904 301 Blvd. W., Bradenton to apply for or renew a concealed weapons license.
“We are just a value-added service at the local level,” Manatee Tax Collector Ken Burton Jr. said. “It’s good for us. It’s been good for the agriculture people.”
While the licenses will not be handled at the Bradenton location until late first quarter of 2017 or early second quarter, the Manatee Tax Collector’s Office has already started the process with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Burton said.
“We put our name in this year, and it’s a process,” he said. “They sent some people down this past week. You have to have certain specifications. They came down and they were happy with where we house it.”
There is still training that staff must go through before the office can begin processing the licenses, Burton said.
“It will be sometime next year when we will begin doing it,” he said.
The Manatee tax collector is just one of a number of county tax collectors who have begun to handle the licenses in their offices after the state Legislature passed a bill in 2014 allowing the tax collectors to accept the applications on behalf of the agriculture department.
“We had been getting phone calls ongoing since it’s been opening up around the state,” Burton said.
Currently, Manatee residents have to either drive to Tampa or Punta Gorda or mail in the application.
“It is a convenience factor for our citizens in Manatee County,” Commissioner Betsy Benac said.
Shoot Straight Sarasota manager Cameron Acorn echoed Benac.
“It’s definitely more convenient,” Acorn said. “I think it will definitely be more convenient for Sarasota County and Manatee County residents. I think a lot of other tax collectors do it across the state.”
There will be an additional $22 fee for residents to get the license at the tax collector, which will help cover the costs, Burton said.
“The customer seeking it will still do everything they are doing, go to a class. They get fingerprinted and all that,” Burton said.
The licenses will only be available at the one location and by appointment only, Burton said.
“They are already calling,” he said.