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Commentary, sarcasm and snide remarks from a Florida resident of over thirty years. Being a glutton for punishment is a requirement for residency here. Who am I? I've been called a moonbat by Michelle Malkin, a Right Wing Nut by Daily Kos, and middle of the road by Florida blog State of Sunshine. Tell me what you think.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Property Tax Reform III

From the Sun-Sentinel-

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida legislators Thursday night gave the final nod to a multi-billion-dollar property tax-cut package they hope will kick-start Florida's sluggish real estate market and boost the state's faltering economy.

The two-pronged plan first offers immediate relief by forcing cities and counties to roll their taxes back to the 2006 level and then cut up to an additional 9 percent, depending on how much they've raised taxes over the past five years.

Tax bills this November should reflect a savings of $15.6 billion to owners of all properties – homesteaders, snowbirds, landlords and business owners alike. The average homeowner is expected to save $174 this year.


In January, voters will be asked to approve the second element of the plan, an amendment to the state constitution that establishes a "super size" homestead exemption for permanent state residents.

Lawmakers hope the new exemption will reduce the tax burden enough to make homes more affordable, especially for first-time buyers who have had trouble getting into the state's high-priced housing market.

The amendment, which passed the Senate on a 25-12 vote and the House, on a 74-43 vote, will be decided on Jan. 29, coinciding with Florida's presidential preference primary.

If the amendment passes muster with voters, the average homeowner is expected to see a $1,306 tax break by fall of 2008.


The price tag of the tax-cut package was initially estimated to exceed $31-billion over the next five years. But a late change to the tax package, crafted by Senate Republican leaders, blunts the overall financial impact, reducing it to about $24 billion.

Democrats opposed the change in the homestead exemption, arguing that it will lead to budget cuts at the city and county level that could decimate needed services like fire rescue and law enforcement.

"I don't want the people in Century Village who get sick to have to wait for an ambulance to get there because there are fewer firefighters," said Senate Democratic Leader Steve Geller of Cooper City.

It's also estimated that public schools could lose more than $7 billion over five years if the amendment passes.

"The real tragedy of this proposal is that it's the single largest cut to education spending ever in the United States, and the people who will pay the price for this fix are the kids in school," said Rep. Shelley Vana, D-Lantana, a former president of the Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers Association.

Hoping to allay fears of longtime homeowners worried over how a new super-sized homestead exemption could affect their tax bills, lawmakers decided to give taxpayers a choice.

Originally, homeowners would have been forced to drop their Save Our Homes protection – which limits increases in their home assessment for tax purposes to 3 percent a year - and switch to the new homestead exemption plan if they saved even $1 a year under the new plan.
Keeping Save Our Homes, makes it more palatable to my own set of circumstances. I'm still not sold on this new proposal, but it is better than previous reform packages.

As to how it will effect local governments and education, Orlando Sentinel columnist Lauren Ritchie makes an interesting case.

Wah, wah, wah. The mean old Legislature is going to take away our money.

Listen to the government city piggies screaming when you cut back their slop. Never mind that they got so obese in the past two years that they might be considered . . . well . . . hogs. And we all know what happens to them, don't we?

Yep, bacon.

State lawmakers went into session earlier this week with a tentative proposal to hack $31.6 billion in property taxes during the next five years. They want to start by freezing what counties and cities can collect as a result of exploding land values.

Too late, dudes.

Lake government is receiving $108.5 million in property taxes this year, up from $82 million last year, thanks in large part to the increase in assessed values. That's a 32 percent increase, or $26.5 million. Not too shabby.

Cities and counties will be forced to freeze tax collections at their 2006-07 levels, then impose cuts of 3 percent, 5 percent, 7 percent or 9 percent, based on how their taxing performance has been during the past five years. Theoretically, communities that have seen property-tax collections boom must cut the most.

That means the $108.5 million -- not the $82 million -- will be the baseline from which legislators start chopping.

Will it help Lake taxpayers? That's a big maybe.

Already, however, local governments are whining. And that's just what it is -- baseless boo-hooing. They're like toddlers who ate one Tootsie Pop and screamed their heads off when mom confiscated the second.
LOL, Lauren is probably my favorite Florida based columnist. She makes a good point, alot of what we're hearing is really whining from local officials. I'll have to study how this tax reform proosal will effect Palm Beach County before making a final decision.

Linked to- Bright & Early, The World According to Carl,

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