Seminole County Tax Collector History
Seminole County was incorporated on April 25, 1913, after splitting off from Orange County. One of the first positions created and appointed was County Tax Collector, whose office was originally located on the ground floor of the Valdez Hotel in downtown Sanford, Florida.
It remained there until 1918 when the Seminole County Commissioners purchased the Elks Lodge in Sanford to use for all county offices and as the Courthouse.
In 1972, construction of a new County Courthouse was completed and all county government and the five independent County Constitutional Officers relocated there.
In the early 1980’s, the rapidly expanding county needed more government office and courtroom space. The County Commissioners had previously acquired the building housing Seminole Memorial Hospital on 1st Street and Mellonville Avenue. They decided to convert it to become the Seminole County Services Building when the hospital chose to move and build on a new lakefront site west of downtown Sanford. By 1984, the County Tax Collector and the County Property Appraiser had both moved their state Constitutional Offices into the County Services Building.
John D. Jinkins
The first Seminole County Tax Collector was John D. Jinkins who served as the County Tax Collector for 34 years, from 1913 until his death in 1947.
He was born in Alabama, moved to Central Florida when a small boy, and was Chief Clerk at the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad in Sanford (the new County seat) when he was appointed Tax Collector. Subsequently he ran for and was elected to the post in 1914.
A picture taken in 1905 shows teacher John Jinkins holding a shotgun as the 10 young girls in his Sunday School class stand around him outside under an oak tree.
John L. Galloway
John L. Galloway, Seminole County’s second Tax Collector, was quickly appointed to the vacant position in 1947. He ran for the post and was elected Seminole County Tax Collector in 1948, remaining in office until his retirement on December 31, 1964. He served for a total of 17 years.
A native of North Carolina, Mr. Galloway was a World War I veteran and a member of the Florida National Guard unit located in Sanford, Florida. He remained active in the American Legion, serving as Commander of the local Post, and was a Free Mason in the Sanford Lodge. He had one daughter and three grandchildren at the time of his death in Orlando in May, 1975.
George Troy Ray, Jr.
Seminole County’s third Tax Collector was George Troy Ray, Jr. Prior to becoming Tax Collector, he was Chief Deputy to the County Clerk of the Circuit Court. He was first elected in November, 1964 and assumed office in January, 1965. He served as the Seminole County Tax Collector for 24 years, retiring on December 31, 1988.
During his tenure, Mr. Ray opened the Tax Collector’s first branch office in Casselberry in 1966, and later added one in Altamonte Springs. As a member of the Florida Tax Collectors Association, he was appointed to serve as Chairman of the Florida Tax Collector’s Department of Motor Vehicle Committee during the time the state was beginning to develop a statewide computer system for the vehicle database.
Mr. Ray graduated from Seminole High School, and after serving in the US Navy during World War II, attended and earned a degree from the University of Florida where he was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.
As a hobby, Mr. Ray was accomplished at antique clock repair and restoration. Upon retirement he went to a painting class at his church, received a starter kit from his wife, and launched a new successful adventure in becoming an admired artist, creating many beautiful paintings.
In July, 2009, Mr. Ray passed away. He is survived by his wife, two children, and five grandchildren.
Ray Valdes became the fourth and current Seminole County Tax Collector when elected in November, 1988. He has lived in the county since moving here with his family from south Florida in 1978. Born in Savannah, Georgia, he graduated with a BBA degree from the University of Georgia where he was a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity. Prior to seeking elective office, Mr. Valdes held various management positions in three Fortune 100 corporations, and owned a successful business he started from scratch. He received an honorable discharge from the US Air Force in 1962.
He is very active in the Florida Tax Collectors Association (FTCA), the National Association of County Collectors, Treasurers and Finance Offices (NACCTFO), the National Association of Hispanic County Officials (NAHCO), and has served in every elected position of each of these three professional organizations up to and including as national President. He is acclaimed for developing a national position paper on bankruptcy reform, testifying before the US House Judiciary Subcommittee relating to local tax issues, and was instrumental in drafting the language of many tax provisions that were adopted and passed by Congress in the Bankruptcy Act of 2005.
Mr. Valdes was elected an officer and proceeded to become President of the National Conference of Republican County Officials (NCRCO). In 1997 Mr. Valdes began participating in the educational and then leadership positions of the National Association of Counties (NACo). He has been selected to serve on the NACo Board of Directors for numerous terms, twice as National Parliamentarian, on the Governance Task Force, the Finance Committee, the Credentials Committee, the Homeland Security Task Force, and as Chairman or Vice-Chair of NACo’s Finance and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee for seven consecutive years.
In 1999, Mr. Valdes was named by a panel of independent judges on behalf of NACCTFO as the United States County Tax Collector / Treasurer / Finance Officer of the Year. In the same year another set of judges from across the nation, on behalf of NCRCO, selected and honored him as the National Republican County Official of the Year.
He was selected to be a Delegate or Alternate to each Republican National Convention in 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004. He is a Free Mason in the Casselberry Lodge. As his youngest son became involved, Mr. Valdes applied his sports experience to become a Coach in Pop Warner football and Youth League soccer for 7 years.
In 1992, Mr. Valdes established and opened a Branch Office in the City of Oviedo to serve the growing population on the east side of the county. In 2009 a new Lake Mary Branch Office was opened, and as a pilot venture into a new realm, offers Florida Driver License services.
Mr. Valdes is married, has three children and four grandsons. He is an ordained Elder in the Presbyterian Church, a licensed private airplane pilot, and a PADI certified SCUBA Rescue Diver and Divemaster. In his spare time, Mr. Valdes enjoys outdoor activities with his family, getting wet while Class IV and V whitewater rafting, SCUBA diving, flying a plane, and saltwater fishing in the Gulf of Mexico.