The average citizen and resident of the State of Florida knows little if anything about legislation and initiatives currently being proposed to greatly alter their lives. When I found out about the Save Our Homes Amendment, my first reaction was that on its face it sounds good.
That however is the danger as special interest groups (and the legislators serving them in return for…) often use clever language to conceal and obscure their true intent and what they desire to accomplish. Nowadays the powerful serve themselves, not we the people. Therefore we the people must be all the more knowledgeable, studied, and astute.
When I wrote the chairman of the Save Our Homes Amendment who pioneered the legislation, Lee County Property Appraiser Ken Wilkinson, I was pleasantly surprised when he wrote me back within a day. What however was a bit disheartening was when I asked for the direct link to the legislative amendment itself, Mr. Wilkinson only provided me a link to the petition.
Nevertheless I read the petition, which on its face sounds good for Florida homeowners (especially those who would like to move elsewhere in the state and buy a new home). What troubled me however was the last sentence on the petition, which reads:
“Thereafter the new homestead property shall be assessed as provided herein.”
That being said, how come nothing else was written or provided therein pertinent to that clause? What is coming hereafter that we homeowners need to know about?
Omissions and distortions are the modus operandi of slick tongued legislators not desirous of letting we the people in on their true motivations. Purporting to serve the people, they talk sweet but the rest that remains to be seen is always yet to be discovered.
Here are some of my recent discoveries (and the search and rescue of the Florida homeowners continues).
John Sebree, Vice Pres. of Public Policy for the Florida Association of Realtors, recently wrote my sister saying:
“The calculators you are looking at are not taking into consideration the revenue cap on local govt ad valorem taxes that can be collected from this point forward. Personal income has increased an average of 4.2 percent each of the past ten years and the Gov just signed a bill that limits the amount of taxes a city or county can collect to that same personal income growth factor. That is a point the media refuses to acknowledge.”
So in other words there is a move to not “limit” property taxation to annual 3% increases, but move it up to the new Governor approved and permitted 4.2% now allowable.
Mr. Sebree further wrote: “The US Constitution would prohibit portability in the way we want it. It appears portability would violate the US Constitution’s ‘right to travel’ clause. We are working on a way to make it constitutional and that can be added in.”
The million-dollar question however is who is “we” — certainly not the taxpaying homeowner. I dare say “we” is the tax assessors and county property appraisers working for them.
Mr. Sebree assured my sister in her 50s who can’t afford to move and pay in an enormously increased tax bracket on a new home: “If you stay in your house forever you are still protected under this new language (as you said, assuming it even makes it on the balot and passes). The amendment as written grandfathers you in so you never lose your Save Our Homes if you stay.”
Why than is Save Our Homes not saying that? The “if you stay” part is huge for homeowners across the state on a fixed and limited income who can’t afford massive taxation increases on their home. Consider the retired elderly, ill, single-parent, and those who are unemployed. If the elderly or ill need to move closer to family for home health care; the single-parent marries and moves elsewhere; and the unemployed relocates to take a job—either of these scenarios means much higher property taxes and the elimination of the 3% cap.
This therefore becomes a huge deterrent for the above mentioned when economically, medically, occupationally, and maritally considering their options.
My guess is those behind this legislative amendment are preparing to move into a new home and/or relocate to their dream houses before the property tax cap is removed. While the “super exemption” may help a bit get folks into a home, after 5 years in that home expect the taxes to increase dramatically. That isn’t being understood by most people.
Other legislation less heard about to be aware of which further reveals the true intent of the state of Florida and where we are heading is:
ARTICLE VII FINANCE AND TAXATION, SECTION 4, SECTION 6
Homestead Exemptions shall be indexed, removed from Flood V Zones and Save our Homes repealed
Beginning in 2007, or the year after the property tax exemption was enacted, homestead shall be indexed. “Save our Homes” assessment cap shall be phased out over 10 years. Residual “SOH” cap shall be fully portable only during phase out period. Flood V Zones property shall not be available for property tax homestead exemptions. Properties in Flood A Zones shall have annual exemption increases limited by 1/2 index.
This is being sponsored by the Hurricane Insurance Creation out of St. Petersburg, chaired by John Jeffrey Lane. The sponsor of the initiative alone should be sufficient to alert you as to who are the beneficiaries of such an amendment.
The Hurricane Insurance Creation is pushing to get hurricane insurance incorporated into homeowner property taxes and thereby “flood the market” with their policies by reason of the private-public initiative. Interestingly, they are simultaneously pushing to pull the former Save Our Homes property tax cap. If this goes through, the insurance industry wins big and homeowners suffer monumental losses annually.
If you don’t read the amendment now and vehemently speak, soon we the homeowners will weep!
ARTICLE VII SECTION 9. SECTION 19. ARTICLE X SECTION 27
Hurricane Insurance as a Local Property Taxing Authority at Market Value
Create Hurricane Insurance with component flood and windstorm perils (FHW) that shall be written by the State on all Florida properties whether municipal, public residential or commercial, except in Coastal Barrier Resources Areas or other “Properties Ineligible”. All properties except “Properties Ineligible” shall have vouchers and separate accounts. Hurricane Insurance shall be a local property taxing authority and part of the annual property taxes.
Remember the government doesn’t love us as much as they say and ambiguity is the tendency of special interest groups (and the legislators they buy to favor their cause) proposing initiatives that really aren’t in the best interest of we the people.