Florida Real Estate Boom Bringing in Surplus of Tax Dollars

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Morris Shelkofsky lives on a fixed income. While he can keep most expenses to a minimum, he expects his property taxes to be three times what they were in 2003.

Morris says, “You’re being squeezed. The question is, are you going to live long enough to be squeezed out?”

While the increase in property values is difficult for some seniors, it’s great for schools that are dealing with demands of the class size amendment. School officials say districts have to build more buildings since each class can have only 25 students and the districts have to hire more teachers.

Wayne Blanton, President of the Florida School Boards Association, says, “It’s really a double whammy right now and we would really be in trouble if property values were not going up as rapidly as they are.”

Blanton says the property tax revenues along with a state increase of eight percent means many districts are giving teachers a substantial pay raise. Gov. Jeb Bush says districts are using it wisely.

“It ebbs and flows. The important thing is how the money is being spent. I think it’s being spent on the right things, like the remedial reading program,” says Gov. Bush.

No one expects Florida to sustain the kind of increases it’s had in the past year, 40 percent in some areas, 10 to 12 percent in most. Morris Shelkofsky says if the trend does continue, he may have to move.

Florida TaxWatch cautions that the state shouldn’t get too dependent on the extra money since the tax hikes force thousands of Floridians out of the housing market each month.