Talk of the bay: Property tax plan viewed as poetic injustice

By Times Staff
Published December 28, 2007

Does Gov. Charlie Crist want to turn us into a state full of star-bellied Sneetches, favored over their non-star-bellied counterparts? That's the suggestion of Sean Snaith, director of the UCF Institute for Economic Competitiveness. Snaith said the state's property tax referendum next month, which Crist supports, would create a privileged class of longtime homeowners if portability of Save Our Homes is approved. Like Dr. Seuss' quirky yellow characters, these "star-bellied" homeowners would have tax benefits denied to first-time home buyers or people relocating to Florida. Snaith's suggestion is that the state has to stop believing in fairy tales and even consider "the dreaded income tax."

Pearlman mansion to highest bidder?

Conventional marketing hasn't produced a buyer for music producer Lou Pearlman's Windermere mansion, so bankruptcy trustee Soneet Kapila and mortgage holder Bank of America want to try an auction and have asked the bankruptcy court for permission to hire Fisher Auction Co. as auctioneer with the bankruptcy estate. The auction likely would be in late February, Kapila said. Bank of America's mortgage on the property is about $5.3-million. Pearlman is in jail awaiting trial on federal bank fraud charges.

More get benefit of phone bill help

Discounted phone service for low-income households saw a surge in enrollment this year. No, the poor economy wasn't to blame. The Public Service Commission credited the 13-percent increase to automatic enrollment for families that register for low-income assistance programs through the Department of Children and Families. Applicants are asked whether they are interested in saving $13.50 on their monthly bills. Information on eligible customers is then electronically forwarded to the commission, and then to the telephone company for enrollment. A family of four earning less than $27,878 would qualify for Lifeline. For information, contact your phone company or call the Public Service Commission at 1-800-342-3552.