The Sun Sentinel reported that a proposed constitutional amendment that would cap the amount of taxes virtually all property owners pay is quickly gaining traction in Tallahassee. Wide-ranging tax exemption proposal gainssteam, By Tonya Alanez, Sun Sentinel, December 18, 2011. I am specifically bringing this to the attention of our current Palmetto Bay Village Council who appear oblivious to the future of lower revenue and have failed to heed advice to reverse the stealth tax increase of this current budget that also plans on spending down $1.5 million in hard fought village savings. (See my prior posting: Florida's (State) Tax Collections expected tofall sharply. Palmetto Bay council should reconsider its stealth property taxincrease for this budget year. October 12, 2011)
Back to the Tax proposal in Tallahassee: This proposal, if passed, would mean a super exemption on top of current exemptions, ranging from 15 to 30 percent of their property's fair market value of between $75,000 and $400,000 for most homeowners. The exception: Those whose Save Our Homes (SOH) benefit exceeds the super-exemption.
The SOH benefits would extended far beyond the homesteaded property owners as for snowbirds and other non-homesteaded owners, there would be a 7 percent cap on how much taxes could rise. This would replace the current 10 percent.
The recapture factor would be lost to local government. For long-time Save Our Homes beneficiaries, whose property is valued for tax purposes at an artificially low rate, assessed home values would no longer increase 3 percent a year if in fact the property value has stayed the same or decreased. This becomes a permanent low rate.
As reported; "This constitutional amendment would benefit the entire spectrum of property owners," said Roger Suggs, president of the Florida Association of Property Appraisers and Clay County's property appraiser.
The article continues to provide warning to local officials (and to the local taxpayers residing in those areas where their officials are not listening) that this proposal, which would need to pass the Legislature and then go to voters, could be a blow to cities and counties — costing them an estimated $3.63 billion over four years. School districts would be the only taxing bodies not impacted.
In other words, Mayor Shelley Stanczyk, Vice Mayor Brian Pariser and the other council members are ill-advised to continue risky fiscal practices such as proposing to spend down village reserves on the growing increasingly riskier bet that there will be a property value (and therefore tax revenue) recovery in the next few years. Values may rise for the owners after the real estate recovery, but revenues to governments will not. Not if the Florida legislature and the voters have anything to say about it.