The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 8 No. 51 - September 10, 2008


Tax swap amendment sinks

The Supremes have spoken. No, not the 1960s singing group, but the Florida Supreme Court. Last Wednesday the Florida Supreme Court dealt the final death blow to Amendment 5, commonly known as the tax swap amendment.

Amendment 5 was designed to provide tax relief for Florida homeowners by eliminating the portion of property taxes that the state government requires to fund schools. The loss in tax dollars would be offset by a combination of cutting budgets and increasing sales tax. The clarity of the amendment’s wording was challenged relative to funding schools after the first budget year and was subsequently removed from the Nov. 4 ballot in August by a circuit court judge.

The decision was appealed to the Florida Supreme Court, which unanimously agreed with the original circuit judge’s decision that the ballot summary was misleading. The decision stated the amendment did not indicate the promise to replace the lost revenue extended beyond the first year. This definitively removes the possibility of voting on the amendment in November. The high court also struck Amendment 7 and Amendment 9 from the ballot pertaining to school vouchers and budget requirements respectively.

One of the defenders of Amendment 5 was Mark Herron, a Florida Association of Realtors lawyer, who argued the ballot language was "accurate as to what the amendment does." He claimed the challenge to the ballot language was not misleading and indicated political reasons were to blame for its demise. These amendments were placed on the ballot by the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission, and it was clear in the Supreme Court’s decision that it felt the commission may have overstepped and expanded its agenda relative to taxation and budget issues.

The removal of the amendment from the ballot has all but eliminated any tax reform along these lines for the foreseeable future. The Taxation and Budget Reform Commission only meets every 20 years, and another commission, the state Constitution Revision Commission, which could put the proposal back on the ballot, is not scheduled to meet for 10 years. The Florida Legislature has the ability to consider this proposal but has indicated they are not inclined to do so.

State Rep. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, who supported the amendment, indicated, "I think it’s unfortunate that these amendments are not going before the voters."

He further stated, "It is something that I think was really needed to generate movement in our real estate market that would in turn generate economic health that we need so badly right now."

As much as I sometimes hate to agree with elected officials, I do agree with Galvano. As I indicated in August when this issue first came up, if Florida doesn’t enact a fair and balanced property tax system, our ability to compete and attract new residents to our state will be damaged. The trickle-down effect of that will impact all businesses ultimately reducing school funding, exactly what the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling is attempting to protect. The real estate market is very fragile right now, and it won’t take a lot to push it one way or another. Let’s hope the Supreme Court’s decision doesn’t slow down what was looking to be a nice little turn around in the market.

Back in the 60s, when the musical Supremes sang "Stop In The Name of Love," I guess they didn’t mean stopping taxes. Unfortunately, today’s Supremes don’t either.

Real Estate Transactions
Closed sales between May 19 to June 13, 2008

Anna Maria

83 North Shore Drive Single family $775,000
208 Lakeview Drive Single family 585,000
715 Holly Rd. Single family 550,000
110 Cedar Ave. Single family 462,200
701 N. Bay Blvd. Single family 419,100
515 Spring Ave. Single family 405,000

Bradenton Beach

1104 Gulf Drive N. Single family $1,425,000
200 Gulf Drive S. #1 Condo 750,000
104 Gulf Drive S. #104 Condo 460,000
2700 Gulf Drive N. #207 Condo 450,000
107 Eighth St. S. #8 Condo 330,000
1007 Gulf Drive N. #213 Condo 300,000
2114 Ave. A Lot 225,000
1801 Gulf Dr. N. #271 Condo 210,000
2116 Ave A Single family 185,000
1000 Gulf Drive N. #6 Condo 168,900
204 Church Ave. #13 Condo 130,000


4412 125 St. W. Trailer park $9,500,000

Holmes Beach

6006 Gulf Drive #109 Condo $1,220,000
503 69th St. Single family 950,000
6700 Gulf Drive #20 Condo 600,000
117 Neptune Lane Duplex 565,000
3208 Sixth Ave. Condo 455,000
201 35th St. #6 Condo 447,500
108 49th St. N. Half duplex 375,000
402 Clark Lane Duplex 360,000
6500 Flotilla Drive #186 Condo 314,000
3402 Sixth Ave. #3 Condo 305,000
204 54th St. Duplex 300,000
6300 Flotilla Drive. #76 Condo 227,300

Source: Manatee County Property Appraiser’s Office

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