Property taxes lawsuit
This news doesn't surprise me at all.
How noble of that law firm. Some Florida taxpayers could say if the suit wins and the proposition is removed from the ballot, that taxpayers will then 'get charged' by Weiss, Serota, Helfman, Pastroiza, Cole & Boniske of Fort Lauderdale.
Until this week, one of the most eye-catching things that Weston Mayor Eric Hersh had done was promote a failed plan last year to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on a massive indoor sports palace.
On Monday, the Democratic mayor's notoriety ballooned. He opened up a new statewide political fight and found himself the subject of criticism by filing Florida's first lawsuit to challenge the Legislature's proposed property tax cuts.
Hersh is asking the Florida Supreme Court to scrap a Jan. 29 statewide referendum on property taxes and to dismiss a just-enacted rollback and cap of local property tax rates that cities and counties have begun to implement.
The 33-page lawsuit immediately triggered livid replies from Republican legislative leaders and is fanning concerns that the proposed "largest tax cut in Florida history" could be thrown out by the courts even before voters consider it.
The petition asserts that a proposed state constitutional amendment is flawed because it contains a "misleading" ballot summary and improperly scheduled election date and interferes with local governments' authority to levy property taxes.
Hersh held a Monday afternoon news conference at the offices of the Fort Lauderdale law firm that filed the lawsuit. There, he said the Legislature's proposal requires citizens and local governments to give up too many rights in exchange for modest tax relief.
Citizens' ability to decide what level of services they want for their community would be usurped, Hersh said. The tax-cut plan "assumes that legislators in Tallahassee know best for every community what is needed and what is desired by residents." Hersh, 47, insists he's not filing the lawsuit for any personal political gain. He and lawyers who wrote the petition are encouraging others, including local government officials, to join the petition. But it's unclear whether there will be many takers.
Criticism rose quickly, and by late Monday, critics had begun circulating an e-mail to have Hersh recalled from his public office.Democratic leaders in the Legislature said their caucus members won't sign on to the lawsuit since all but one of them, Rep. Jim Waldman of Coconut Creek, voted in support of the rollback and cap the lawsuit seeks to throw out.
The Florida Association of Counties, whose leaders have criticized the Legislature's tax-cut plan, refused to comment about the lawsuit. John Wayne Smith, chief lobbyist for the Florida League of Cities, another critic of the tax cuts, said his group isn't interested, as of yet, in joining the case. He said he remains hopeful that legislators will later this year meet in a special session to radically modify or remove the constitutional amendment from the ballot.
Gov. Charlie Crist and House Speaker Marco Rubio had no immediate reaction, but several Republicans, including Senate President Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie, urged the high court to promptly dismiss the case.
The state's high court still has to accept before hearing the lawsuit, which Hersh is filing both as an individual and as mayor of Weston. It is being filed by Weiss, Serota, Helfman, Pastroiza, Cole & Boniske of Fort Lauderdale, which is handling the case free of charge to taxpayers.
If you want to read the lawsuit click here. I would think the lawsuit is on shaky ground, but who knows what those seven knuckleheads in Tallahassee will rule. TFM is at best luke warm towards property tax reform. For I'm fine with my taxes at present.
City governments are moaning about cuts, but many municipalities have had a windfall in revenue over the last few years. I'm also sure some cities and counties will be hurt. With all the posturing, its hard to tell the truth. What's the situation down in Weston? I'd be interested in knowing. Mayor Hersh asserts 'Citizens' ability to decide what level of services' would be upsurped by the proposition. Isn't the ballot initiative about what level of property taxes Floridians want to pay? To me it sounds like Hersh doesn't want Floridians to have a say.
Feel free to disagree.
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