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Senator's tax cut plan would aid caregivers

A state senator's plan would benefit people who renovate their homes to take in elderly relatives.

By ALISA ULFERTS

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 24, 2000


Want to take in an elderly relative but don't have the space? State Sen. Ginny Brown-Waite wants to help.

The Republican from Brooksville on Monday announced she plans to file legislation that would give a property tax break to people who add on to or renovate their homes to make room for elderly relatives.

Those who seek the exemption would not be taxed for the value of the home improvements, or would get a 20-percent reduction in their entire home assessment after the improvements, whichever is less. The bill would not apply to people who don't need to renovate to take in a relative.

"It offers homeowners an added financial incentive to caring for a loved one," Brown-Waite said. It will have additional benefits, too, she added. "Studies have shown that three-generation homes have a strong family bond where children learn to respect elders and vice versa."

Brown-Waite said she worked on a similar measure while a staffer at the New York state legislature.

"We called it the "Granny flat" bill," Brown-Waite said.

A companion bill will be filed in the House of Representatives by Rep. Leslie Waters, R-Largo, said Brown-Waite, whose district includes Hernando and parts of Pasco. The 2001 legislative session begins early next year.

But the bill might not be without its critics. State Rep. Ken Littlefield, R-Dade City, had local officials up in arms during the last session over his proposal to grant local property tax exemptions to nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and adult homes that keep a set number of beds reserved for Medicaid patients -- 70 percent for nursing homes and 60 percent for the ALFs and adult homes.

The bill, which was withdrawn, could have stripped almost $97-million from Pasco County's tax rolls. Pasco County Property Appraiser Mike Wells could not be reached for comment on what effect Brown-Waite's plan would have on the county's tax base.

Hernando County Property Appraiser Alvin Mazourek hadn't seen Brown-Waite's proposal but said he was interested in finding out about its potential effect.

"I have no idea what the impact would be," Mazourek said.

Negligible, Brown-Waite said.

"It's not reducing the revenue they (local governments) already have," Brown-Waite said. It will actually save state tax dollars, she said, because fewer people will go to nursing homes.

"It's temporarily putting off a tax increase," she added.

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