State in the extreme SE United States. A long, low peninsula between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Florida is bordered by Georgia and Alabama.
Area, 58,560 sq mi (151,670 sq km).
Pop. (2000) 15,982,378, a 23.5% increase since the 1990 census.
Nickname, Sunshine State.
Motto,In God We Trust.
State bird, mockingbird.
State flower, orange blossom.
State tree, Sabal palmetto palm.
Groups organize to seek lower property tax rates in Florida
PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. – Aug. 6, 2007 – Joe Raineri, a radio talk show host in Palm Beach County, got mad one day about property taxes and decided to do something about it. So did part-time Broward County residents Bill Levison and James Guglielmo, as well as others including Dory Kilburn and Frank MacNeil.
Furious at the tax rates agreed to by their elected officials, dozens of people from Broward and Palm Beach counties have organized grassroots groups and are demanding deeper tax cuts on houses and apartments than what state legislators have provided for.
Raineri set up a Web site, formed a citizens group (Not Good Enough Florida), and is devoting one-hour Sunday commentaries on radio station WJNO in West Palm Beach to the subject of property taxes and how he thinks the Legislature blew it.
“Those politicians got it all wrong,” says Raineri, 34. “That’s why so many of us are getting organized. That’s why we’re still in a ruckus. It’s because what they did, well, it’s just not good enough for Florida.”
With names like “Cut Taxes Now,” “No More Property Taxes,” and “Cut Unfair Taxes and Spending,” anti-tax groups and their leaders played a part in prodding Gov. Charlie Crist and the Legislature into making property taxes a priority this year. Now, a second wave of associations like the one Raineri formed is out to oppose what the Legislature passed in June, and to demand additional or different tax reductions.
Most of these activists share a dislike for super-sized homestead exemptions approved by the Legislature, which Florida voters will have the opportunity to accept or reject in a referendum next Jan. 29. Those exemptions contain no tax savings for snowbirds and other nonpermanent residents, and ultimately doom existing Save Our Homes protections for homeowners.
“People need to turn the state upside down on taxes,” said Bernie Navarro, a Miami mortgage broker who formed one of the anti-tax groups, Citizens for Property Tax Reform. “People feel helpless now. There should be protests in the streets.”
Many of the citizen groups have only a few hundred members. Some are linked to established state and national anti-tax organizations, or snowbird associations. Others are well-connected machines with extensive fundraising operations, such as Navarro’s group, which began as a cheerleading venture for an abortive tax plan written by House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-West Miami.
Some analysts say what’s going on is an anti-establishment form of political activism that’s borrowed a page or two from the tactics of California anti-tax crusader Howard Jarvis, who energized residents of the Golden State in the ‘70s with his rallying cry: “I’m mad as hell.”
As for what the groups bring to Florida’s ongoing debate over taxes, one thing is clear: They are keeping the issue at the forefront and are reminding elected officials that their political futures may depend upon a drop in tax bills.
John Hallman, a consultant in Boca Raton who has helped organize some of the groups, fears they may not be marching in step.
“I was hoping for a more unified approach,” Hallman said. “My fear is that if we have too many stray efforts ... people will be confused.”
Some of the associations are championing ballot initiatives that could be put to the state’s voters in November 2008. One proposal, the “30-40-50 plan” would work this way if enacted: a homesteaded taxpayer 62 or older would pay taxes based on 30 percent of a property’s taxable value. Non-senior homesteaders would pay on 40 percent, and everyone else, including snowbirds, landlords and business owners, would pay on 50 percent.
Levison, 71, a retired electrical engineer, summers in Massachusetts and winters in Hallandale Beach. He spends most days e-mailing other snowbirds to rally opposition to Florida’s property tax system. “I have a feeling our best hope is through a lawsuit,” said Levison, who organized Broward Activists for Tax Equity.
Guglielmo, another snowbird, lives part-time in Hallandale Beach and is president of Americans Reforming Florida’s Biased Homestead Tax Law. He, too, wants to take the tax-relief battle to court, and so does MacNeil of Palm Beach Shores, who heads the Committee for Fair Florida Real Estate Taxes.
Kilburn, with the Boynton Intracoastal Group that includes her neighbors in Boynton Beach, says she pays 38 times more in taxes than some of her neighbors. The state’s real-estate tax system, she says, unfairly favors long-time, permanent residents over part-timers, noncitizens and renters.
“This was supposed to be my ideal retirement,” said Kilburn, 56, who lives the rest of the year near Ottawa in Canada. “The tax system is pitting neighbor against neighbor.”
Copyright © 2007 South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Mark Hollis. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Hernando County was established on February 27, 1843
- Hernando County was briefly renamed Benton County in 1844, the county's name was changed back to Hernando in 1850.
- Bayport was at one time the county seat.
- Until 1856 when it was renamed, Brooksville was known as the town of Melendez.
- The county encompasses approximately 37 miles from east to west, 18 miles from north to south and contains approximately 506 square miles or 323,700 acres more or less.
- Hernando County is the geographical center of Florida.
- Approximately 32% of county land is owned by the government.
- Approximately 23% of the county land is agriculturally classified as Greenbelt
- Incorporated Cities Population:
Brooksville (County Seat) 2006 7,322
Weeki Wachee 2006 8
Hernando County Population
||127,392 || |
|2002 ||135,423 || |
|2004 ||149,214 || |
|2005 ||153,644 |
|2006 ||165,816 || |
- "Spring Hill" Urban Area Population 93,842 approximately as of October 31, 2006.
- Labor Force of 59,328.
- In 2006
- The Hernando County Property Appraiser's Office managed 125,609 parcels made up of 114,483 Real Property parcels and 11,126 Tangible Personal Property accounts.
- Nearly $185 million dollars in Ad Valorem Taxes will be levied based on the 2006 Taxable Value of $9,938,028,469.
- Approximately 55.6% of the county's General Fund will come from Ad Valorem taxes, which equates to some $66.9 million dollars.
- New Construction Just Value was $478,607,269.
- Sales of Single Family Homes totaled roughly 5,047 with an average sale price of $213,442, up from $182,509 from the prior year.
The Greater Hernando Chamber of Commerce
Hernando County Clerk of the Circuit Court
Hernando County Planning Department
Hernando County Property Appraiser
Copyright ©2007 Hernando County Property Appraiser
|© Copyright 2007 Hernando County Property Appraiser's Office|
201 Howell Avenue, Suite 300, Brooksville, Fl 34601-2041
Phone (352) 754-4190
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© 2007 Hernando County Board of County Commissioners
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