Taxing Times

Once-valuable homes and business buildings that are now gone will soon be off local property tax rolls, and that has school officials across Florida worried about future funding.

Wayne Blanton says, "For the $500,000 service station who was taxed last year is now a vacant lot, and it’s not worth anything anymore. People have to understand that this is far more reaching and long range than it is right this very minute."

After Hurricane Andrew, state lawmakers kicked in the taxes that were lost by local governments. That same pitch is already being made again.

On the plus side, every two-by-four sheet of plywood that’s being bought to make repairs will produce a short-term sales tax windfall for the state, revenue officials don’t know how much they will get, but it is expected to be significant.

Dave Bruns with the Department of Revenue says, "In Andrew, there was more than $900 million in taxes that were associated with the Andrew recovery."

And with extra millions expected to flow into the state treasury, Gov. Jeb Bush says he will consider a tax bailout for local governments.

"As economic activity that generates tax revenues because of the rebuilding effort, it is more than appropriate for the state to plow that back into needed infrastructure," says Bush.

While many of Charley’s scars will heal quickly, the storms impact on the tax picture of state and local governments is going to be complex and take years to normalize.


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