Amendment 4 promises property tax breaks but not all in favor
Ft. Myers, Fla. - A proposed amendment on your Florida ballot calls for tax breaks for new homeowners, among other things. But what would that mean for local governments depending on that money for essential services?
Four In Your Corner's Colleen Hogan is breaking down Amendment 4 and getting reaction.
Amendment 4 has several provisions. Primarily though, it would give snowbirds or people buying a second home in Florida property tax breaks when they buy a home. But some say that creates an unfair tax burden for the rest of us.
Cape Coral realtor Jim Fischer is in the process of selling one of his waterfront listings.
"We're seeing a lot of second home buyers coming in and taking advantage of the prices," Fischer said.
If passed, Amendment 4 sponsors say it would help new home buyers and home sellers like Fischer.
"I think it's gonna help growth tremendously with people trying to come down and buy second homes and seeing a relief in the tax structure," he said, though he questions how the measure would help the local economy.
The amendment has three major tax property breaks:
- A new homestead exemption for people who haven't owned a home in florida for three years.
- A provision that someone's tax bill can't increase if their property value falls.
- A cap that prevents the tax bill on a non-primary (or homestead) residence from rising more than five-percent a year.
But not everyone's in favor.
"We're encouraging all citizens to vote no," Ft. Myers City Councilwoman Teresa Watkins Brown said.
Brown and the rest of the council approved a resolution earlier this month opposing Amendment 4, saying it would give unfair tax breaks that would force the city to make tough choices.
"It would cause us to look at all the core services we provide to citizens," she said.
State economists estimate the proposed tax breaks will cost local governments $600 million by 2016.
"Because the city of Ft. Myers relies a lot on the property taxes that are paid, if this amendment passes, we would have to look at other ways of taxing the citizens to make up for this budget shortfall," she said.
Colleen Hogan, reporter