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Today's Letters: Property tax proposal Lawmakers headed in wrong direction

Published June 12, 2007


Why is everyone looking at tax reductions for homesteaded homeowners? Most of us, due to the Save Our Homes cap, are fine with what we pay. While in retrospect the cap was a bad idea and needs to go, it has kept my taxes at a bearable rate.

The people needing help now are the owners of businesses and investment property - those without homestead exemption. Snowbirds and investment buyers (rental property) can no longer afford their taxes.

Even now, the rents on homes barely cover costs and can no longer be realistically passed on to the renter. Rental property owners and snowbirds (who bring an influx of money to our economy) will be forced to sell their property, pushing an already anemic real estate market further down. That will hurt all of us, and our economy, as our property values decrease further. There will be a larger glut of properties on the market. I will no longer be trapped by the tax cap's lack of portability; I will be trapped by not being able to find a buyer for my house.

What about businesses? With the continuation of the "highest and best use" policy, they may not be able to survive. To survive, they will have to raise their prices to cover the higher tax burden. That increase funnels down to me. With the taxes, insurance and increased energy costs, they are possibly going to shut their doors. When the businesses go, so do their owners. That means more property for sale.

All in all I think the Legislature is looking in the wrong direction. We need people in Tallahassee looking out for the state's economy and future, not what is popular and will help get them re-elected. That is how we got here - by instituting a cap, instead of fixing the real problems.

Becky Griffin, Indian Rocks Beach

Help small business

Reports on the new property tax proposals say the bulk of tax savings would go to homesteads.

So small businesses are going to be left in the lurch again. Our esteemed lawmakers spent much time and goodwill to arrive at a complicated solution for homesteaded property. Did they just figure more homesteaded owners vote than small business owners?

Is it just too simple to change three words to one word?

From "highest and best use" to "current use"?

Barbara and Waldo Rowell, St. Petersburg

Tax intangibles

One way to take the tax burden off property owners would be to restore the intangibles tax, which was done away with by our former governor and Legislature. When it was repealed, the considerable tax revenue that it generated had to be made up somewhere, and property owners had to come up with extra money.

Of course, the folks in Tallahassee will not even discuss restoring it because it taxes the "haves, " those who provide the financial and political muscle that put them in office.

Jan Allyn, Largo

Finding revenue

I am pleased that property tax relief may soon be a reality. There are so many ways to boost revenue to cover the costs for services. An increase in the sales tax certainly would spread the burden equally, and that is fair. A state income tax that is assessed and paid for equally, whether you work or not, is a consideration. We could legalize gambling and take a portion of the income, or we could take a higher percentage of the lottery and distribute the funds.

We could also find ways to cut back administrative costs so that more goes to other expenses.

Most importantly, when you look at who and what benefits from the taxes, it is largely schools and social services. Those of us who do not burden the services that the taxes are used for, perhaps, should get a break from any tax at all.

Ann Hernandez, South Pasadena

Here's an answer

Like an animal backed into a corner, our local politicians are feeling the heat of the taxpaying voters who are fed up paying the rates the politicians came up with. Now they are lashing out by saying, "What services do you want to lose?"

I have no problem offering a solution. First, all elected officials will be paid the federal minimum wage. All perks are to be eliminated, such as retirement and health care. No more free trips to anywhere. No more limos either. Take the bus. No more gifts from lobbyists. Set up an office of fraud and waste, and use it. Next, legalize gambling and tax the casinos 50 percent of the profits, with the money going toward property taxes.

By following my suggestions, I predict a record windfall, for the taxpayers for a change.

Craig R. McNees, Tampa

Pensions drain tax coffers June 10, story

Meet the 401(k)

A pension plan? What is that? Didn't the Republicans do away with them during the Reagan years?

It's time to introduce the police, firefighters and all other public employees to a 401(k), just like the rest of us working Americans.

John Avery, St. Petersburg

Pensions drain tax coffers June 10, story

Markets are chugging

In Aaron Sharockman's story on how municipal retirement plans have eaten up the property tax windfalls, I was surprised to read that one reason is "a lackluster stock market."

I think the reporter should walk over and ask some of the business reporters if the market is "lackluster." He might find that for the last couple of years the markets have been climbing to record levels. Of course there are occasional corrections, but the overall markets have been chugging along quite well.

George Lear, St. Petersburg

City to limit gay pride protests June 8, story

No free speech zones

At last year's gay pride parade in St. Petersburg, members of a homophobic Christian group engaged in disruptive behavior. They followed the marchers in the pride parade and, using bull horns, proceeded to direct numerous invectives at the parade participants.

Our City Council seems to believe a solution to this disruptive behavior would be accomplished by merely establishing a "free speech zone." In that zone, it was reasoned, those wishing to hurl hate speech at the gay pride marchers would feel their freedom of speech was being protected.

I will never accept being told, essentially, "This is where you will be permitted to use your free speech!"

For the members of Veterans for Peace, our entire nation is one grand free-speech zone, and until this bloody and criminal war is brought to a conclusion, we intend to demonstrate, march and protest wherever and whenever we choose. If this sounds like Veterans for Peace is challenging our City Council, that is correct. We have the Bill of Rights on our side.

Jesse Elmer Kern, St. Petersburg

You deserve this moment, sir May 29, photo

Praise is due

I think we all have heard the expression, "One picture is worth a thousand words."

Your photographer Douglas R. Clifford was wide-awake and understood the meaning of Memorial Day. His photo of World War II veteran Cedio Saltarelli at Curlew Hills Memory Gardens in Palm Harbor said it all.

Any veteran of any war, especially those who have been in a combat zone, would have had to be stunned when he opened the St. Petersburg Times and read the headline: You deserve this moment, sir.

As a loyal reader of your newspaper, I presume that I am as guilty as any reader; we are quick to complain when we are not pleased with an article or photo. We are not inclined to be as prompt when you deserve a congratulatory note. Good deeds deserve praise.

Your photographer and the person who wrote the headline certainly have served us well and, to them, thank you and keep up the good work!

Chuck Adams, Seminole

[Last modified June 11, 2007, 21:48:31]

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