Sunday, December 23, 2007

FLORIDA DIGEST December 23, 2007

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Florida Today

Clock winding down on property tax proposal
Supporters, opponents of reforms kicking campaigns into full gear

December 23, 2007

Subtract time off for the holidays, and it's less than a month beforeFlorida voters will vote on a $9.3 billion property tax-slashing plan.

The proposal, which would give homeowners an average $240 savings, has heavybacking from Gov. Charlie Crist and supporters at "Vote Yes on 1," which hasa war chest of $1.5 million from the Florida Association of Realtors.

And by the end of last week, Florida Power & Light had generated anadditional $250,000, and the Florida Medical Association paid a house callwith a $50,000 check. Outdoor advertisers piled on an additional $66,000.

"Vote Yes on 1" flooded the state with hundreds of thousands of fliers lastweek, targeting voters who are already receiving absentee ballots. Thebarrage also includes a recorded phone message from Crist.

At first glance, opponents may be a dollar short and behind in time.

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South Florida Sun-Sentinel answers your tax questions

December 23, 2007

With a little more than a month to go before a statewide referendum, manyFloridians are still trying to understand what the proposed changes in theway their homes and other types of property are taxed would mean for them.

Some have sent their questions to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Web site,and our reporters have sought out the answers. Starting today, and on eachSunday leading up to the Jan. 29 referendum, the Sun-Sentinel will printsome of those exchanges, to help readers better grasp the impact of theproposed amendment to Florida's constitution. If you have a question, youcan submit it as well by going to We'll tryto post or publish answers to many of your e-mails as we can.

Some recent queries, and the answers:

Q I am a retired senior.

I have owned my condo in Kings Point, Tamarac since 1997. I was a snow-birdfor 9 years.

I have moved to Florida permanently in the fall of 2006. My real estate taxvaluation took off four to five years ago. I did get a $1,000 reduction inmy taxes this year, thanks to the homestead exemption, but I still pay twiceas much as my neighbors.

Is this situation being addressed for people that became permanenthomesteaders, who were charged unfairly disproportionate high taxes for thepast several years?

- B.G., Tamarac

A The disparities in property tax bills between people who own similar homesis the result of how the state's Save Our Homes tax break works. Thus, theconstitutional amendment, if approved by voters, will have mixed results onresolving the disparities because it leaves Save Our Homes intact.

Under Save Our Homes, once a Florida resident buys a home, its taxable valueis set using the purchase price and an analysis of the real estate marketdone by the local Property Appraiser's Office. After that, the taxable valueof the home can increase no more than 3 percent a year.

The result has been cases where two neighbors can own homes with the samemarket value but one pays a lot less because he or she has owned the homefor a long time and the taxable value has grown more slowly than the truevalue. The new neighbor is taxed closer to the true value.

That would remain true for many even if the constitutional amendment isadopted. The amendment does not correct the inequities, but allows residentsto take their Save Our Homes break with them when they move within thestate. If neither you nor your neighbors move, then the inequities in yourtax bills would remain.

- Scott Wyman, staff writer


Miami Herald

Churchy songs belie Florida's character

Posted on Sun, Dec. 23, 2007

Feet don't tap. Hands don't clap. Fingers don't snap. You might, however, betempted to nap.

These aren't rousing ditties. The three finalists for title of officialFlorida state song seem better suited for the state of somnolence. These aretonal sedatives that might be useful to dull the senses of hyperactiveschool kids. Instead of administering Ritalin, force the kids to memorizeWhere the Sawgrass Meets the Sky or Florida My Home -- not to be confusedwith My Florida Home. Same result.

But no one, hearing these three contenders, will be inspired to leap intothe mosh pit of civic endeavors. Nor are they memorable.

I listened at, the website set up so we can vote forour favorite, but none of them stuck in my brain long enough for me to casta vote. It was like listening to a debate among Republic presidentialwannabes and trying to pick a winner.

The problem, of course, is that the choices for state song are all of achurchy style that recalls the 19th century hymns of John and CharlesWesley. Instead of heavenly glories, substitute Florida, ''sitting in theocean like a sentinel true.'' If this were 1887, Floridians, all 520,000 ofus, would have ourselves three dandy choices.

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