Local Property Tax Reform
The long-awaited details have arrived. Lawmakers finally outlined a proposal to cut your property taxes. The plan will take a two-pronged approach. The first, would create a "super" homestead exemption. But it's the second element that's really got folks talking.
It's a five-tiered rollback of city and county spending. The more they raised taxes over the last five years, the higher the cuts. Some local governments will see no roll back while others would have to cut their budgets up to nine percent.
North Central Florida runs the gamut of both the potential cuts-- and opinions on the issue.
"No you don't need a surplus, we need it here," exclaimed Linda Smith of High Springs.
She says rising property taxes are making it harder to make ends meet. "My own taxes went up large, almost double!"
Similar complaints are bringing lawmakers back to Tallahassee tomorrow to talk property tax reform. That would mean funding cuts for cities and counties.
Around North Central Florida... Gilchrist, Dixie, Levy, and Columbia Counties would all have rollbacks of 3 percent. Alachua County would have to rollback 5 percent and Marion County at 7 percent.
Cities have their own roll backs too, and a couple in North Central Florida have the highest rollback possible at 9 percent. Cities like high springs.
"It's going to be tough," says High Springs City Manager Jim Drumm. "All our programs are going to feel it in some way or another, but the hardest decisions are yet to be made."
Hard decisions like choosing what to cut. The High Springs Police Department only has 14 officers and city officials say they're probably going to have to cut 4 of them.
And even those being hit the hardest in the pocketbook don't want to cut back those essential services.
"I'd not like them to make the cut there," says Smith. "I don't know where else they could cut the fat, but there's got to be fat somewhere."
High springs officials say they're surprised they're in the highest rollback bracket. They question whether the state's calculations are accurate.
For the latest on property tax reform stay with Your Hometeam. We'll be in Tallahassee Tuesday bringing opening day of the special session home to you.
Anne Imanuel, WCJB TV20 News
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