Making Law Part 3

By: Blaine Tolison Email
By: Blaine Tolison Email

We're heading to the coast to get at the core of Amendment six. Then we'll take a look at Amendment eight to see why community colleges might consider a local tax.

Amendment 6

Florida's coast is changing, with more of it becoming prime
real-estate. But for marina and seafood company owner Steve Rash, like many others, he has to make a living there.

Steve Rash, owner of Waterstreet Seafood said, "You don't see any condominiums here. We're in the fishing business and it's not really fair for us to pay the high property taxes associated with high property values and condominiums."

This takes us to Amendment Six which seeks to help those like Steve, his employees, and owners of public or private working marine facilities. It is called the "Assessment of Working Waterfront Property Based Upon Current Use" and it has seen virtually no opposition. Where it stands now, small marinas such as Waterstreet Seafood are being taxed for their highest and best use value.

Kurt Wenner, a Florida Taxwatch Researcher said, "You could probably get a lot more money for it because somebody would want to build say a high rise condominium there, but these people want to keep it as a marina, so they will be taxed at it's value as a marina."

Amendment 8

For our final amendment, we check out Florida's community colleges. The Florida Association of Community Colleges says it is currently serving 900,000 students. The association also says the state provides about 75% of community college funding and with so many students, funding is limited. This is why some have brought forward Amendment Eight--"Local Option Community College Funding."

The provision would allow Florida's counties the option to levy local sales taxes for community colleges. Miami Dade College, the strongest supporter, says this is just what colleges need. College President, Eduardo Padron, Ph.D. said, "The public should have the opportunity to invest in their colleges who are basically the vehicle for economic development for these communities."

Others are hesitant about the provision, saying it might backfire: "I could see the legislature coming in and taking away some of the revenue that the state provides, which is the responsibility of the state." said Representative Curtis Richardson.

It's not confirmed what the legislature would do--but supporters say it is only an option for community colleges to consider. We've spoken with Tallahassee CommunIy College and it currently has no plans of using the tax option if it passes.

Watch next week when Caroline Blair continues our series, "Making Law," with Georgia's one and only amendment.

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