Thursday, June 21, 2007
In a conversation I had yesterday with Robert White, of the Cultural Council, he made the cost of the Property Tax Relief blindingly clear: the cost of a gallon of gas, or a Starbucks latte-a-day. Over the course of a year, that sum amounts to little over one-thousand dollars.
Indeed, I am in no position to shake a casual stick at a cool grand, but when I think of what that money will really cost; in terms not only of my cultural leanings, but too the beliefs I spout so frequently to anyone within earshot, I know that it is time to take a stand. I oppose the property tax relief and have already badgered the mayor’s office, and my city council rep (for those of you living in Riverside, that’s District 9, Warren A. Jones, 630-1395, WAJones@coj.net).
But the thing that bears noting is this: the tax relief won’t just affect Jacksonville’s cultural scene, will impact non-profits across the city and those resources like the police and firefighters. The mayor is presenting his budget to City Council on Monday, July 16, at 10:00 a.m., and in it, he has to reduce the budget by 10%. Judging from experience, those entities deemed non-essential will be the first to go.
What can we do? Now would be a good time to call or write city hall, or your council person, and tell them how you feel…what you are thinking.
But for those of you that aren’t sure what got passed and what is up for grabs, here’s an excerpt from a Florida Times Union Article:
The Legislature passed a multi-part property tax reduction plan: An immediate, one-year rollback of local governments’ 2007-08 fiscal-year property tax revenue to their 2006-07 levels, a mandatory cut of 3 percent to 9 percent in local governments’ property tax revenue; a cap on future tax growth, tied to personal income growth, and a constitutional amendment election offering Floridians an expanded homestead exemption. The rollback, cuts and caps were done through legislative action; the constitutional amendment will go before voters January 29. However, in three counties (including Duval), governing bodies can override the rollback. In Duval the approval of 15 of the Jacksonville City Council's 19 members would be needed.
The constitutional amendment:
The amendment would establish a new homestead exemption of 75 percent off the first $200,000 of a property’s value, 15 percent off the next $300,000 in value, and a maximum exemption of $195,000 for homes worth more than $500,000. The maximum exemption will rise according to per-capita personal income each year. There also are benefits for low-income seniors, those with affordable-housing status and waterfront properties. If the amendment fails, the Save Our Homes benefit would stay as is, as would the tax rollbacks, cuts and caps. Homeowners whose homes are valued below $200,000 would receive a minimum $50,000 exemption.
So really, there are several hurdles to clear, or at least stay in front of. But for now, just weigh in with the city government. According to White, only about 20% of the people contacting their reps are currently opposing the tax relief. And remember, you don’t need to be a homeowner for this to affect you. What happens when you go to the library and it’s closed, or the park is over-run with weeds, or, the beach is closed, what then?
If you don’t know what district you live in (I wasn’t sure), you can call 630-CITY or go online to coj.net.
Because as White noted, “It’s mathematics…you don’t to more with less, you do more with more.”
Jacksonville City Council
117 West Duval St.,
Jacksonville, FL 32202
Warren A. Jones
Phone: (904) 630-1397
Michael L. Corrigan, Jr.,