Election day is next week and we've been talking about the constitutional amendments you'll be voting on. Out of the six amendments on the ballot, we covered Florida's Amendment One and Amendment Two on our 11:00 p.m. newscast Wednesday night. Thursday night, "Making Law" part two aired covering Amendments Three and Four.
From preparing for disaster to going green--residents are investing in their homes. Currently, the government assesses the value of such improvements to a home for tax breaks. Amendment three says it would change the assessment to allow the legislature to prohibit tax breaks on devices that increase resistance to wind damage and create renewable energy.
At Florida Tax Watch, Director of Tax Research Kurt Wenner says even with this amendment in place--homeowners will still save money. "If you harden your home or you do a renewable energy device, that cannot be considered by the property appraiser as an improvement to your property, so basically the price of those improvements won't be taxed." said Wenner.
Another amendment that deals with property is Amendment Four, which touches on Florida's critical issue of land conservation. It's title is "Property Tax Exemption of Perpetually Conserved Land; Classification and Assessment of Land Used for Conservation."
If you've been by the capitol lately, you've seen the "Florida Bear" holding a sign in favor of this amendment. Some voters might ask him, why would you want to vote yes?
Preston Robertson, Chairman for Yes On Four said, "The reports show that by 2060, another seven million acres of this state will be paved over at the present rate of urbanization and our fear is that we are going to lose the special qualities; our waters, our springs, our wildlife habitats that make this state a special place to live."
If landowners decide to classify their land to be used for conservation--not only would they help prevent thousands of acres from becoming victim to urban sprawl--they would be cleared 100 percent taxes on that land. And although a few critics say this could take tax revenue from the state, supporters say it would still save Florida money and help the environment at the same time.
Wenner said, "The state's been buying a lot of land for conservation purposes and this is given a tax break for land to be put in for conservation and perpetuity is cheaper than the state buying it and then the state having to maintain that land every year."
In addition to a land tax break--landowners would never be able to build on their conservation land. We'll have Part Three of "Making Law" Friday night, which will cover Amendments Six and Eight.