Monday, October 20, 2014
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
 

The Potential Impact of Amendment 1

On Tuesday, voters will go to the polls and decide on the Republican nominee for President. Most of the talk about this week's election has centered on how the democrats aren't here (Florida's Democratic delegates were stripped when the primary was moved), on whether or not Giuliani will be done after Tuesday (polls show him fighting for third), and who is going to pull out the win in what is now a statistical tie between Mitt Romney and John McCain. Turnout among Democrats and Independents is expected to be very light, since Florida will have no impact at the Democratic National Convention, and Independents have just one issue on the ballot.

Published January 28, 2008 in Opinion      30 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article




However, that one issue may have a tremendous impact onall Floridians, and that issueis Amendment 1, the proposed change to Florida's property tax. Governor Charlie Christ it seems has been on every TV Channel, every Radio Station, and on at least one billboard on every major thoroughfare, urging you to "Vote Yes on 1" in order to preserve the 3% "Save our Homes" cap and make it portable.

However, is Amendment 1 really a good thing? Leaders in Tallahassee seem to think so, as well as people involved in the Real Estate market, many of which are desperately missing those large commission checks from the real estate boom of a couple of years ago. They claim that this will be a good thing for Florida, and that local municipalities need to trim the fat (since there is none in Tallahassee). Fighting Amendment 1 has been local leaders of almost every municipality in Florida, including our leaders here in Jacksonville. Also fighting are the heads of nearly every public safety organization in Florida, including Sherriff John Rutherford. They are claiming that by passing Amendment 1, it will reduce the amount of money available to municipalities to fight crime and fight fires.

So who is right, and who is blowing smoke? Well for one, Governor Crist's statement that Amendment 1 will preserve Save Our Homes is not true. If Amendment 1 does not pass, the 3% cap will remain in place, and nothing will change. However, if it is passed, the 3% cap that currently resets when you move will become portable. This isn't really what was intended with the original Save Our Homes. The point of Save our Homes was to ensure that someone who had lived in a house for 15 years wasn't forced out of their existing home (hence the phrase, "Save our Homes"). It was never designed to "Save our Homes and any home we might buy at some point in the future".

According to the Times-Union, a Duval County homeowner who lives in a $180,000 home will save an average of $223.36 on their annual property tax bill. The big issue with this from city officials and public safety workers is that this means a cut of $60 million from their annual budget this year alone, and more down the line as the portability of the Save our Homes kicks in and compounds the budget cuts.

For a simple quote that really spells out the issue, turn to John Seabree, Vice President of Public Policy for the Florida Association of Realtors who says, "If Jacksonville will be hurt disproportionately by this, that's unfortunate, but the average voter out there can't bear what's going on, whether it's Jacksonville or somewhere else. I do think Jacksonville is a little different market than the other communities. But there's also a little grandstanding going on, and some cities are just going to have to find alternative sources of revenue."

Well Mr. Seabree, where do you think that these "alternative sources of revenue" will come from? Unfortunately, Seabree did not offer to make up the difference in City Revenue from hisReal Estate Agents' commission checks. So, that difference is going to have to come from John Q. Taxpayer, most likely in the form of fees to homeowners. Remember those three fees that Mayor John Peyton added this year? Well, hang on if this passed, because more will probably come our way. So, somebody explain to me what the difference is between a $2,000 property tax bill and an $1,700 tax bill coupled with $300 in new fees?

Some say that local governments should just tighten their belts, eliminate waste, and everything will be fine. State officials might point to the John Peyton-Scott Teagle contract fiasco. Well, if Amendment 1 was in place, and John Peyton had been knowingly giving Scott Teagle contracts under the table, do you really think he'd cut Teagle out? Not likely. Instead, police and firefighters would be cut, libraries would be close, and parks would become less maintained.

Finally, there is the issue of city and county home rule. The idea behind home rule to maintain the ability of our local leaders to govern on local issues. Apparently Charlie Crist was absent the day they taught home rule at policy class.. I'm curious what Charlie Crist would think if John McCain was swept into the White House on the campaign promise that he would cap Sales Tax at 4%.

On Tuesday, we urge all registered voters to go out and vote. We'd also like you to put some thought into how you vote on Amendment 1, with slightly less emphasis on your wallet, if possible. There is potential to create serious local problems for our public safety and other government agencies.

For the full ballot text of Amendment 1, click here: http://www.duvalelections.com/GetDocument.aspx?id=1105








30 Comments

Lunican

January 28, 2008, 07:30:45 AM
Quote
So, somebody explain to me what the difference is between a $2,000 property tax bill and an $1,700 tax bill coupled with $300 in new fees?

I think the fees do not qualify as a tax deduction like property tax does, effectively increasing your federal income tax.

second_pancake

January 28, 2008, 09:38:25 AM
It saddens and sickens me that there are so many people in our communities that truly believe having what equates to $20 extra a month in their pocket, is worth not having emergency service to their home in a timely manner, having free curbside garbage collection revoked, and having even more crime outside their front door with little activity from a short-staffed police force.  We'll pay $20 a month for a personal home security system, but not for city services?

SunKing

January 28, 2008, 12:11:46 PM
The difference is accountablity.  Think about it, the existing system is pure communism.  I like the pictures leading the article because that is what we have in Jacksonville today.  My businesses were robbed 6 times last year.  In business 12 years, maybe twice before.  Over the last 10 years the median home price in Jacksonville, I am guessing here, but it went from around $75k to over $200, it more than doubled.  There has been very little inflation until the last two years.  All those new homes with fair share fees which werent previously paid all being paid over the last five years of growth.  All of those homes that had been homesteaded are now paying.  Don't forget about commercial property which does not have increase restrictions.  I have a commercial property that I have owned for several years, taxes jumped from $3k to $11k.  WTF?  Commercial values haven't increased a dime in the last 10 years, all the growth is in residential.  Yet crime is way up, our bond rating is down.  The city doesnt have any money.  It's a joke, It is all archaic and this would provide accountability for services.  My recyclables have now been sitting in front of my house for a week btw.

vicupstate

January 28, 2008, 04:39:09 PM
Regardless of home appreciation, the Save Our Homes admendment prevents the taxable value from going up more than a nominal percentage every year.   

There is no additional accountability that I see in this, just a very convenient excuse for the local governments NOT to fund anything.   

willydenn

January 28, 2008, 05:29:37 PM
Amen SunKing!

DevilsAdvocate

January 28, 2008, 07:53:24 PM
All the supporters of the amendment:  Enjoy the state income tax that will be created w/i the decade to deal with the impending financial crisis facing the state after the property taxes are slashed.  Great idea to me, tax only working state residents instead of taxing people using services tho not working and people with second or third homes in FL that don't live here.  Lovely idea.

dowtown-entrepreneur

January 28, 2008, 08:54:32 PM
It's sad our how misinformed a large portion of the population is about this amendment. Like stated in the article, people will only save approx. $20 a month. Crist is doing a great job of spinning it to make it sound like a great idea. Hopefully the voting public knows what is best for the Duval County government.

SunKing

January 29, 2008, 05:35:38 PM
Fees here to stay even after vote
Article reprints available.
Find out more. 01/29/2008

by Mike Sharkey

Staff Writer

Based on public perception, “Joe Voter” probably thinks if the property tax amendment is defeated today, the three fees enacted by City Council last fall will be repealed.

That perception would be inaccurate, as would the perception the fees were passed in an effort to offset potential lost City revenue created by lower property taxes.

In a memo to Council members Monday, Mayor John Peyton’s Policy Chief Adam Hollingsworth explained the necessity of the fees and why they will be imposed regardless of today’s election.

“Some have asked: ‘If Amendment One fails, do the fees go away?’ The answer to that question is no,” said Hollingsworth in the e-mail memo. “Remember that the fees enacted in the current year budget helped offset the property tax reductions forced on Jacksonville by the Legislature in the current year budget. These reductions, passed through statutory changes, required Jacksonville to roll-back property tax revenue by three percent from FY 06/07 levels.

“Going forward, Jacksonville’s property tax revenue will be capped at the rate of population growth and Florida’s per capita income growth. The new, diversified fee structure, combined with budget reductions in the current year, helped balance the budget and provide for basic services (like police, fire, parks, public works, libraries, human services, etc.). In addition, the fees provide for diversification in an environment in which local government property tax revenue continues to be under attack.

“Governor Crist continues to say that, win or lose, he will continue to push for additional property tax reductions. The Florida Tax and Budget Reform Commission is considering constitutional amendments for the November, 2008 ballot that would further restrict property tax revenue. In addition, we continue to face a challenging public safety environment, likely requiring new investments like the one referenced above from the sheriff for $30 million.”

According to Hollingsworth, lower property taxes would create a financial burden.

“Our finance team has estimated that Amendment One will cost our local government between $50 million and $75 million per year in lost property tax revenue,” he said. “However, the fees passed as part of the FY 07-08 budget will help close the gap. Considering all revenue sources, and anticipating modest expense increases (primarily related to contractually-obligated wage, pension and health-care costs), we expect a total budget hole of approximately $30 million in FY 08/09 if Amendment One passes.”

Council member Jay Jabour sits on the Council Finance Committee and said he understands why many in Jacksonville would feel as though the fees should be repealed if the amendment fails. As someone who sat through hours of budget hearings in September, he remembers hearing often how devastating the lost revenue would be to the City’s nearly $960 million budget.

“I think there is a misunderstanding why the fees were passed initially,” said Jabour.

In late September, just before the start of the 2007-08 fiscal year, Council passed three new fees — a stormwater management fee, a garbage fee and a JEA franchise fee. April 1, the garbage and JEA fee go into effect, while the stormwater management fee will be implemented July 1. Overall, the fees are expected to generate approximately $25.7 million annually.

If the amendment is defeated, Jabour doesn’t expect it to go quietly.

“I still don’t believe this is the end of the journey,” he said. “Whatever happens to the referendum, the Legislature has the right to what they want anyway. First, we need to get through the referendum, then get through the legislative session.

“One thing that’s interesting is there’s so much uncertainty.”

Jabour believes it would be wise of Council President Daniel Davis or another Council member to address the matter publicly if the amendment fails. He said it’s important to communicate what happened at the polls and the effect the outcome will have on the property tax issue and the pending fees.

Robert Arleigh White, executive director of the Cultural Council, was also a regular at the fall budget hearings, often going to bat on behalf of his organization as well as dozens of area non-profits. Like many City departments, White’s budget was slashed along with most of the non-profits. White said he has already met with City officials to discuss what happens if the bill is defeated.

“We started, some time ago, thinking about this issue,” he said. “We will think creatively, and we have visited with officials at City Hall. There is no question if it passes we will all live differently.

“We are hearing all kinds of things from all kinds of people. If it does not pass, I will not be surprised if something else comes out of Tallahassee this spring.”


The fees broken down


The soon-to-be-implemented fees passed by City Council in late September are broken down into three categories. One fee is a set dollar amount while the other two are based on usage and percentages.

Garbage fee

• Implemented April 1

• $3 per month

• Expected to generate $3 million annually

JEA franchise fee

• Implemented July 1

• Based on electric usage

• 3 percent of a JEA customer’s combined electric, water and sewer bill

• Expected to cost an average of $5.31 a month

• Expected to generate $17 million annually

Stormwater management fee

• Implemented July 1

• Varies depending on a property owner’s impervious surface

• For residential property owners, this will average $5 a month

• Commercial property owners will be assessed based on a formula of impervious surface area divided by an equivalent residential unit (ERU) and multiplied by $5.

• Expected to generate $5.7 million annually



The fees are here regardless, so you want them to have these fees and continue to raise taxes?  I love this deal I know what I am paying for.  Take back your city.  Did you know the Sheriff's office had 5 planes?  FIVE of them?  Rutherford is full of it, his dept. has plenty of resources, he isnt managing his budget.  More cops?  I see 10 of them every day and they are writing speeding tickets.  He has low morale on the force and a lack of support from the hood.  The city has to completely rewrite its budget, it is broke.  We all need to pay our fair share but under the current system what are your paying for?  The budget is based on last year's budget plus cost of living increases plus whatever new program is in place, blah, blah, blah.  Break it up, how much does it cost to fix 15% of the roads every year?  Cops, firemen, pickup trash, maintain parks and streetlights, keep crap out of the river, landfill capacity to the year 3000.  Am I missing anything?  Why should I not want to move because my taxes will litterally triple?  Are my services going to increase?  Is that money lost because I dont move?  It is a stupid system and it is only going to get fixed when it gets finally broken down.

************
I changd the color, as you couldn't read the yellow....jbm32206/moderator

SunKing

January 29, 2008, 05:42:12 PM
http://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/showstory.php?Story_id=49326

http://www.firstcoastnews.com/news/politics/election2008/news-article.aspx?storyid=101047

Ooooh, yellow was a bad choice, blue is better.  Posted a link instead.  Did you notice how everyone that gets paid by a taxpayer is against this?  Think about it.

thelakelander

January 29, 2008, 11:57:54 PM
Well it passed by a landslide.  Now the ball is back in Peyton's court.

Lunican

January 30, 2008, 07:28:25 AM
Figuring out how to balance the budget will likely consume all of city hall's time and resources, leaving nothing left over for any other issue.

Dapperdan

January 30, 2008, 07:42:00 AM
Whoo Hoo, it passed! I agree with Governor Crist. Now, the local governments can't be wasteful with their spending any more. They will have to be creative. I believe this will be a time of change but not of the predicted doom and gloom. Its like you had a  pension comming  in addition to your normal income and now the pension is all spent. I guess you would have to learn to live back in your means. Good job voters!

second_pancake

January 30, 2008, 08:17:33 AM
DD, the problem is Peyton is not known for balancing the budget in a manner that benefits the citizens of this city.  While the pockets of his "friends" get greased, we lose out on police protection and city services.  The only way he is going to be creative is to figure out how he can keep those promises to his friends of inherent wealth and job contracts.  There goes the neighborhood.

DevilsAdvocate

January 30, 2008, 08:22:55 AM
I would recommend the city now start placing some heavy impact fees on developers to offset a part of the lost property tax revenue.  Also, Florida will have an income tax within the decade.  Congrats to the retirees and out-of-state residents with the million dollar beach front homes, you managed to shift the tax burden away from yourselves.

downtownparks

January 30, 2008, 08:36:17 AM
I would say this is a great time for communities to step up and take charge of their neighborhoods. Maybe being forced to take  a little ownership of their community will do this city and its denizens some good.

I voted against the measure, but it passed, so now lets hope our city tackles it with smart decisions and strong leadership...

Yeeesh...

thelakelander

January 30, 2008, 08:42:30 AM
I wonder if the fact that our city/county government happens to be consolidated played a role in this?  Considering most of Florida's residents don't live in incorporated cities, the passing of the amendment probably affects Jax moreso than most of Florida's cities.  So if most of the state is saving money by this move, the local vote here really didn't matter.  I guess its time for the local government to really learn how to set and stick to a budget.

adamh0903

January 30, 2008, 08:49:56 AM
Impact fees in nassau county are already over 9k closer to 10-11k for some people.

Lunican

January 30, 2008, 10:01:55 AM
The amendment passed statewide, but surprisingly not in Duval County (not that it matters).

http://www.firstcoastnews.com/news/local/news-article.aspx?storyid=101124

thelakelander

January 30, 2008, 10:27:43 AM
Do we really belong in South Georgia?

The rest of the State picks Hillary and McCain, supported Amendment 1 in a landslide, has been much more accepting of urban oriented development, aren't afraid to put the letters "FREE" on a free bus, and have been agressive in implementing various forms of rail, as opposed to fighting it for BRT.  Unfortunately, for the First Coast, if the other major metropolitan areas go one way, it doesn't matter how we vote.

Steve

January 30, 2008, 11:06:49 AM
Whoo Hoo, it passed! I agree with Governor Crist. Now, the local governments can't be wasteful with their spending any more. They will have to be creative. I believe this will be a time of change but not of the predicted doom and gloom. Its like you had a  pension comming  in addition to your normal income and now the pension is all spent. I guess you would have to learn to live back in your means. Good job voters!

Do you really think that if Peyton is lining people's pockets, he will stop now?

Steve

January 30, 2008, 11:08:13 AM
The amendment passed statewide, but surprisingly not in Duval County (not that it matters).

The reason probably has to do with the fact that South Florida has a property tax problem (they really do), but North Florida really doesn't have a problem.

Lunican

January 30, 2008, 11:40:49 AM
Thinking that this property tax cut will somehow transform city hall into a thrifty and creative bunch is probably a mistake. In fact, that is probably the least likely scenario.

With that said, now ask yourself what the most likely scenario will be.

thelakelander

January 30, 2008, 11:47:16 AM
Central Florida voted for the amendment by a large amount as well and they don't have the problem South Florida has.  The only two areas that voted against it was the First Coast and the Tallahassee/Big Bend area.  Just about everyone else wants their $240.

lindab

January 31, 2008, 01:50:26 PM

This just in (a little late): Business leaders tell legislators cuts will hurt services; legislators acknowledge there might be budget restraints.  OH, REALLY?

Quote
January 31, 2008

State chamber rallies troops for '08 agenda
By MELISSA GRIGGS
Business Writer

DAYTONA BEACH -- The Florida Chamber of Commerce will lobby to make it harder to amend the state constitution, fight to give business owners the right to allow guns on their premises and continue to push tort reform in the next Legislative session, chamber leaders said Wednesday.

Sheri McInvale, who handles governmental affairs for the state chamber, outlined the group's agenda to area legislators and business owners during a meeting at the Daytona 500 Experience attraction.

"We are going to be active in Tallahassee over the next few months," said Jim Cameron, vice president of government relations at The Chamber, Daytona Beach/Halifax Area. "It's all part of a grassroots effort on the part of the chamber."

McInvale said priorities this year will be insurance, workforce education, economic development, guns at work and constitutional amendment reform.

She said the chamber would continue to seek reforms in the state's property tax system. Voters' passage of Amendment 1 on Tuesday was a step in the right direction, she said. "We are very excited about the amendment passing yesterday," McInvale said.

The amendment to the state's constitution is expected to save taxpayers -- and cost local government and schools -- as much as $9.3 billion over five years.

Ernest Cantley, president of the Stewart-Marchman Center, told legislators that cuts in funding for human services will hurt the business community, just as cuts in education would. Employees taking time from work to deal with their own or a family member's drug and alcohol abuse hurts employers. Families struggling to pay for treatment have fewer dollars to spend in the local economy, he said.

"We are bracing for difficult times," he said. "As the economy sours, our demand for services is up."

Area legislators at the meeting acknowledged they are concerned about budget restraints during this year's Legislature.

melissa.griggs@news-jrnl.com

SunKing

January 31, 2008, 03:23:00 PM
We already have impact fees.  Its called Fair Share and they are payments to offset a developers impact on failing city services.  A city does not fund operations by impact fees or Fair Share, it doesnt affect the budget.  By law they are intended to fund growth.

RiversideGator

February 01, 2008, 12:17:04 PM
For all of you who are depressed that us tax hating troglodytes voted to cut our property taxes, I have one suggestion:  Simply mail a check for $240 made payable to the City of Jacksonville for your share of the tax cuts you voted against.  Since I am sure very few checks will be received by the City, this is all nothing but talk and hollow gestures.   ;)

Steve

February 01, 2008, 12:26:17 PM
For all of you who are depressed that us tax hating troglodytes voted to cut our property taxes, I have one suggestion:  Simply mail a check for $240 made payable to the City of Jacksonville for your share of the tax cuts you voted against.  Since I am sure very few checks will be received by the City, this is all nothing but talk and hollow gestures.   ;)

Okay RG - the issue is not my individual $240, or your individual $240, all of the people on this forum's $240.   It is the $240 for all of the homeowners in Jacksonville.  This is kind of my point behind all of this.  $20 a month for the average homeowner is not a whole lot, but if you pool all of the money together it is substantial.

If it helps anything, I would say that it will help the elected officials in the short term think about the expensive decisions more.  However, I believe this will be short term, a couple of years at the most.

Jason

February 01, 2008, 03:43:08 PM
Can a city government accept tax "donations"??

Steve

February 01, 2008, 04:56:18 PM
I guess, but what you see in most cities is businesses giving back to the community - in wasy like sponsoring parks, etc.  It's amazong that we see very little here.

If you want an example, look at Publix and Lakeland.  They have an extremely tight relationship, where Publix sponsors city things quite often.

RiversideGator

February 01, 2008, 10:45:45 PM
For all of you who are depressed that us tax hating troglodytes voted to cut our property taxes, I have one suggestion:  Simply mail a check for $240 made payable to the City of Jacksonville for your share of the tax cuts you voted against.  Since I am sure very few checks will be received by the City, this is all nothing but talk and hollow gestures.   ;)

Okay RG - the issue is not my individual $240, or your individual $240, all of the people on this forum's $240.   It is the $240 for all of the homeowners in Jacksonville.  This is kind of my point behind all of this.  $20 a month for the average homeowner is not a whole lot, but if you pool all of the money together it is substantial.

So, I guess it is fair to say that the check from you, Steve, is not in the mail?   :D
If it helps anything, I would say that it will help the elected officials in the short term think about the expensive decisions more.  However, I believe this will be short term, a couple of years at the most.
View forum thread
Welcome Guest. You must be logged in to comment on this story.

What are the benefits of having a MetroJacksonville.com account?
  • Share your opinion by posting comments on stories that interest you.
  • Stay up to date on all of the latest issues affecting your neighborhood.
  • Create a network of friends working towards a better Jacksonville.
Register now
Already have an account? Login now to comment.