Realtors and some homeowners in favor of Amendment 4; local government has big reservations

By on October 10th, 2012

Amendment 4 affects how much residents pay in property taxes and how much the government can say their home is worth.

Those who support Amendment 4 say it’s all about protection from taxes in a down market. Many local governments are not in favor of the ballot initiative, saying that it could have detrimental effects on services and budgets of many localities.

Craig Williams, president of the Alachua County Realtors Association, supports the measure, and said it protects homeowners in a down market.

“Home ownership is one of the most important aspects of our economy,” Williams said. “Anything we can do to stimulate home ownership will ultimately stimulate our economy.”

The measure has three major provisions: it ends the ability of governments to raise taxes on homes whose market value falls; it limits the amount that taxes may rise from 10 percent per year to five percent; and extends additional homestead exemptions for first-time Florida homeowners, or those who have not owned in the state for three years.

Outside groups have been running ads in support of passing this amendment, and have cited a study by Florida Taxwatch, a pro-business advocacy group online, saying  over the next 10 years, approval of the amendment could add 20,000 jobs and add more than a billion dollars to the state gross domestic product.

Many local government officials say passing the amendement could have unintended consequences.

“It could certainly either reduce services or facilitate a need to increase millage rates to make up for it,” said Mark Sexton, spokesman for the Alachua County Commission. He said he expects Alachua County to lose up to $1 million from the change.

The commission did not pass a resolution for or against the amendent, but Sexton said many commissioners have expressed reservations.

Other organizations, like the League of Women Voters of Florida have come out against the amendment, saying that local governments could just raise millage rates, cut services or a combination of both.

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