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Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Todays Letters: Amendment 1 deserves support
Letters to the Editor
Published January 25, 2008
The Greater Tampa Association of Realtors believes strongly that the passage of Amendment 1 is a much-needed step toward tax relief and could be the spark that reignites Florida's real estate industry and, with it, the overall economy. The provisions of the amendment have been well-documented.
- The homestead exemption will essentially double from $25,000 to $50,000 for most Floridians. However, this increased exemption does not apply to school taxation in recognition of school funding needs.
- Homeowners will be able to transfer their Save Our Homes benefit (up to $500,000) to a new homestead if they sold their home in 2007 or later.
- Businesses will have a new $25,000 exemption for tangible personal property.
- The annual growth of taxable value for nonhomestead properties - such as businesses, rental properties and second homes - is limited to 10 percent a year.
We recognize Amendment 1 is not all the property tax relief Floridians deserve, but it is a good start after two years of legislative debate, suggesting further relief could take a few more years to evolve. The legislators need a strong signal from Florida's voters demanding such relief. They also need the constitutional changes Amendment 1 delivers as a foundation for additional savings they can craft legislatively in coming sessions. We still seek better nonhomestead protections and restrictions against unreasonable millage rate increases to offset valuation reductions.
Yet, passage of Amendment 1 can immediately deliver portability of the Save Our Homes benefit and free homeowners held captive in their current homes. Under the proposed amendment, potential buyers and sellers can afford to move to the property they need and want, while not having burdensome tax bills imposed upon them. That is a powerful market stimulus.
Businesses will directly benefit from the $25,000 exemption from tangible personal property tax. In addition to the monetary benefit, the exemption will save nearly 38,000 Hillsborough County businesses labor and time spent completing the tangible personal property tax forms for owning less than $25,000 in tangible personal property. This, and the limiting of annual growth of the taxable value for nonhomestead properties, can only help stimulate business activity and, in turn, positively affect job growth in the state.
The Greater Tampa Association of Realtors supports Amendment 1 and encourages our fellow Floridians to do the same.
Deborah Farmer, 2008 president, Greater Tampa Association of Realtors Inc., Tampa
Reasons to reject property tax plan Jan. 23, commentary by Kenneth T. Welch
Sound argumentsto vote down amendment
I want to thank Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch for saying all the things that I have been thinking and trying for some time to tell my friends. He put all the reasons for voting "no" so well that I am cutting his article out and making copies to pass along to all those who want to know how to vote.
We need to let the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission do its work and let us know what we can do to change the Florida tax system, which has not been working for a long time. There is no overnight solution, and as much as I like Gov. Charlie Crist, I do not agree with him on this.
Mary Lou Jenkins, Largo
Families shoulder less tax burden Jan. 21
A story on the front page of Monday's paper by Alex Leary about the proposed property tax amendment says that businesses, investment properties and snowbirds are hardest hit by property taxes. The story mentions a home in Miami with a market value of $229,000 which is assessed for $82,628 and has a tax bill of $1,070.
We bought a small one-bedroom condo in New Port Richey in 1995 for $21,500. One like ours sold last year for $65,000. Per our tax bill, our assessed value is $59,712 and we paid $1,251.85 in taxes.
As snowbirds we get no homestead exemption, and I accept that. We are glad to pay our share of school taxes, although we get no benefit. As nonresidents we get no vote, and I accept that. But something is grossly unfair here. Why should we have to pay $1,250 in taxes on a $65,000 home while someone else pays $1,070 on a $229,000 home?
Alan Anderson, New Port Richey
Focusing on unfairness
At every opportunity you bemoan the present property tax situation and the proposed property tax amendment as "unfair." You say it's unfair to business, new homeowners and families that don't qualify for the homestead exemption. I think you are missing the whole point
Florida property taxes are unfair because:
- No one should have to pay more in property tax than 1 percent of the market value of their home.
- Everyone should qualify for Save Our Homes. There is no reason why the state, county and city governments should benefit from a hot real estate market by passing through enormous annual increases. Annual increases for private citizens and businesses should be limited to 3 percent per year. As citizens we should expect our state, county and local governments to live within these means. The fact that they talk about limiting business increases to "only 10 percent per year" is ludicrous. How many businesses out there could survive 10 percent increases and stay in business?
- Our elected officials have behaved shamelessly. They knew the economic situation homeowners were faced with, but the money rolled in and one pet project after another has been approved simply because they had the money. These politicians are doing nothing but feathering their beds.
- If there is a shortfall, then try zero-base budgeting or come up with another way to raise revenue, but when it comes to property taxes, we are all paying too much and that is what is unfair.
Charles H. Heist , Clearwater
Think a bit before grabbing that pen Jan. 23, Sue Carlton column
Ikea should do better
Unlike Sue Carlton, I applaud Tampa City Council member Linda Saul-Sena's efforts to force Ikea to give us a more attractive and environmentally sensitive building in Tampa.
Ikea is not just any company. If you look at their Web site and read their press, you see that they have sought to distinguish themselves with their deep concern for environmental sustainability, and their commitment to good design.
Yet when it came to building a new store at the gateway to historically significant Ybor City, all they could come up with was an undistinguished "big box" in a sea of asphalt parking. Tampa's other elected officials were apparently so eager to get the retailer that they failed to insist on a site-appropriate building.
I think it is quite appropriate for Saul-Sena to insist that Ikea live up to its own high standards.
Elizabeth Strom, Tampa
Higher ed aims at the bottom line Jan. 13, letter
The letter writer may win his "bet" about the percentage of adjunct professors at the University of South Florida. And he may be right about other things too. But he is off base when he generalizes about treatment accorded to adjuncts at USF.
My experiences as adjunct professor at the Honors College of USF are not in accord with his description. I was not "pressured and stressed" by the students. They exerted no "demands for grades and advancement." I found the students eager to learn and willing to accept my advice: "You take care of the learning, and the grades will take care of themselves."
The administration, deans, and all of the staff have always been helpful and respectful. Other faculty, likewise, have been collegial in all respects.
This adjunct professor is dedicated and serious about teaching. I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in the noble activity of teaching and learning.