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ORLANDO-Millions in checks crossed his desk from developers and residential owners in his 25 years as property tax collector for Lake County without a hint of impropriety at any time.

That was the legacy left by T. Keith Hall, Lake County tax collector for 25 years and a 39-year county employee before he retired in 1997. Hall died June 25 at 69 of pulmonary fibrosis.

He held his elected position longer than any other Florida property tax collector except for Earl K. Wood, the 85-year-old Orange County collector now in his 38th year on the job in Orlando. Hall worked out of offices in the county seat of Tavares, 32 miles northwest of Downtown Orlando.

A longtime Lake County commercial real estate broker tells GlobeSt.com the reference to checks crossing Hall’s desk is important because in Florida checks for property taxes, fishing licenses, auto tags and a host of other services and tangible assets are made out directly to the tax collector, not to a specific government department or even to Lake County.

“Can you imagine the scandal a dishonest elected official could have created by pocketing those checks and leaving the area overnight,” the broker tells GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity.

Former Florida Gov. Reuben Askew named Hall tax collector in 1971, a year when Lake County’s population was 120,000. The county’s permanent resident count today is 240,000.

Hall saw the rising success of the county’s Christopher B. Ford Industrial Park where national tenants house two million sf of distribution and warehouse space. He also witnessed the herd of national retail and restaurant chains entering the area in the past 15 years.

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