Thursday, 07 June 2007 01:00
Tax Cut WishesWritten by WGCU Newsroom
FLoridians want significant tax relief but don’t want to compromise their quality of life. That pretty much sums up the results of a recent survey taken as the special legislative session aimed at property tax cuts approaches.
During the boom years of the mid 2000’s increasing property values led to a spike in property taxes – especially for business owners and part-time residents. And residents benefitting from the state save our homes amendment have felt trapped in homes that have been too large or small. Lawmakers listened and promise a fix, but county officials are wary. Charlotte County Administrator Bruce Loucks says taxpayers can’t have it both ways - tax cuts will also mean cuts in service.
“a lot people are going to be impacted different ways, for some people they don’t get – they don’t see the benefit they get from government services and that’s fine – those are the people that it doesn’t matter one way or the other what the impacts are however if you’re a person with children and you need parks and libraries then I think the impacts will be more significant. These impacts are going to be hitting different segments of the population differently"
Loucks says if lawmakers proceed as anticipated a resident of Charlotte County with an annual tax bill of 2000 dollars will see their taxes decline by about 380 dollars a year.
By law, counties are required to provide for the public’s safety – so those services would not be impacted. Other’s most likely will be. The special session starts June 12th.
County officials will have their sights focused on Tallahassee next week as state lawmakers begin a special session aimed at lowering property taxes. In a recent poll nearly all respondents said they want significant property tax cuts. But they also said they don’t want local governments to make up for those cuts by reducing services. Charlotte County Administrator Bruce Loucks says that’s wishful thinking.
"Government cannot reduce its revenues without reducing expenses . We collect 150 million dollars in property taxes from residents – 80 million of that goes to those constitutional offices – so half of the ad valorem taxes we collect we cannot impact – so for budget reductions to be made they have to come from the other half of the county sources that funds things like libraries and parks and some of those discretionary services."
The constitutional officers are tax collector, elections supervisor, property appraiser and clerk of courts. The state government also has final say over the sheriff’s budget. Loucks says there’s little fat to cut from Charlotte County’s budget – it’s spent millions over the last three years repairing infrastructure damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Charley in 2004.