Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Beaches Leaders Concerned about Property Tax Measure

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Beaches Leaders Concerned about Property Tax Measure

Article excerpt

Byline: CAREN BURMEISTER

Beaches officials are trying to prepare for a property tax amendment that they say would trigger an unpredictable level of revenue loss and jeopardize services for residents.

The constitutional amendment will appear on the ballot Tuesday, when voters may also participate in the state's presidential primary.

It's the second part of a state effort to rein in rising property taxes. Last year, the Legislature required municipal governments to reduce property tax rates to make up for years of growth related to the housing boom and rising property values.

While managers of the three Beaches cities have concerns about the amendment and hope it doesn't pass, they aren't all on the same page about what role they should play leading up to the election.

Saying there was too much uncertainty to project the measure's financial impact on Jacksonville Beach, City Manager George Forbes said the city will do its best to deal with whatever voters choose.

Atlantic Beach, on the other hand, passed a resolution Jan. 14 opposing the property tax amendment and "urging citizens to consider the consequences."

"Our place is to help educate the voters," said Atlantic Beach City Manager Jim Hanson. "It's a very complicated issue."

The amendment has four main provisions. It would double the homestead exemption from $25,000 to $50,000 except for homes worth less than $50,000. It would add a 10 percent cap for tax assessment increases on non-homesteaded properties. It would add a $25,000 tangible personal property tax exemption. Lastly, it would let homeowners transfer Save Our Homes, a 3 percent cap on property assessment increases, if they buy another home in Florida.

That provision, known as portability, is causing the most heartburn and uncertainty for financial analysts who are trying to determine the amendment's full cost to the Beaches cities. …

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