I’ve been very concerned about where we are going with the property tax reform, as I am sure most of you in Florida are as well. Last evening there was a Town Hall Meeting in Apopka with Rep. Bryan Nelson. The plan that was revealed was interesting, but I am still very skeptical.
My first order of skeptism has to do with the implementation date. Previously it had been talked about by members of the Florida legislature that they would ask for a special election in August of this year. Both Mr. Nelson and an article in the Orlando Sentinel have stated that we will not vote on this until January 29, 2008, the same time that we vote for the Presidential Primary. Now here is one place where it gets a little conflicting. Rep. Nelson stated that we would not see any property tax abatement until they become due in November ’08, yet the Sentinel stated that it is understood that we will see immediate cuts this year.
Well, if we are going to vote until January, they are not going to institute this tax reform retroactively. Can you imagine the mess that this will make?
Anyway, it gets even more interesting. OK, so we know and understand that Save Our Homes, albeit even though it was full of good intentions, is a flawed system that needs to be changed. Well, this is what they are planning on doing. Presently, we take the assessed value of our home, subtract the exempt value to give you the taxable value and multiply that times the millage rate that is set by the city and county commissioners.
Under the new plan, without SOH, you would take the Just Market Value (not sales price or market value as determined on the open market) and multiply that by 20% to get to your taxable value for homes of under $300K. Therefore, you would be receiving an 80% exemption. For homes valued from $300K – 1M, the exemption would be 70%. Personally, I think that this is too high going up to $1M. Unfortunately, we know that they will be appeasing a lot of well-to-do people with special interests, but we’ll get to that later.
Now, there is another twist, this will not pertain to the education tax that we currently pay. That will still be worked under the current program because they do not want education to be affected. While I understand this, that only makes the system convoluted, so now we are going to have two taxing systems.
Additionally, if you have greater savings under the current plan, than you will be allowed to stay with the Save Our Homes, but the rate would be increased from the current ceiling of 3% to 5-7%.
Are you confused yet? It just seems that we are taking one flawed system and replacing with another flawed system. The Orange County Property Appraiser was at the meeting, I had wanted to ask him what the cost would be for his department to implement this new system.
The property appraiser stated that the loss in revenue to Orange County would amount to approximately $73M. Yet, the Orlando Sentinel stated today that we are talking twice that figure. This is very disconcerting. Were we just being fed information that might appease us? How can there be so much disparity?
They did show where the cuts would come from in general terms. There was, of course, some from fire & police, but the major portion was just lumped in a general category for programs. Unfortunately, this means that the programs that are really needed are going to be cut or totally eliminated. According to the Sentinel, it appears that the cuts will come from health care, after school programs, etc.
Being on the Board of a not-for-profit health care, I am very concerned that we are going to further push an already stretched segment of the health care industry. There have already been cuts on the federal and state levels as to reimbursement, etc. Health care clinics serve all, but are a main source for the working poor and those with no insurance. A further cut in funding will only force these centers to eliminate some services, cut hours or even worse close much needed centers. This will only put a greater burden on our hospital emergency rooms which is where these people would be forced to go for medical care.
Let’s get real, the special interests need to be taken care of! So, again the people that are in the most need will be the ones that will have the least benefit & relief.
When you really come down to the numbers, it’s again the ones that have are going to get more of a benefit than the have-nots. This is definitely a shame.
There are too many topics that come to mind that I would like to touch on, but don’t’ want to be any more long-winded than I’m presently. So, hopefully, within in the next week, I’ll be writing a little more about Property Insurance and they way our Government works. It is time for some changes to be made. The system is broken and needs to be fixed – not mended. And the reality of all this, is that we are the victims, we are paying for it all.
Until next time – Marc It Sold!