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Joe Henderson: D.C. Goutoufas’ focus is on opportunities, not obstacles

Beating Hillsborough Property Appraiser Bob Henriquez is a formidable task.

Davelis “D.C.” Goutoufas has a compelling personal story and has spent his life focusing on opportunities instead of obstacles. He spent decades in banking and is well-liked and respected in the Hillsborough County business community.

But in seeking to unseat Bob Henriquez as Hillsborough’s Property Appraiser,  Goutoufas lacks one key thing.

He has no experience in appraising real estate.

So, why is he running for that office?

Go back to the focus on opportunities instead of obstacles.

“I understand the problems at the property appraiser’s office and am willing and able to tackle those issues that impact the local economy, and fairness to taxpayers, in ways that most people don’t even realize. That prompted me to come off the sidelines and get involved,” he said.

“The encouragement of many lifetime friends and associates in and around Hillsborough County inspired me to run for this often overlooked, but incredibly important, public servant position. My late Father also worked for the property appraiser’s office and my banking management background fits this role perfectly.”

That compelling personal story?

He is a fourth-generation Tampan. His great grandfather was the first Greek to settle in Tampa in 1887. His ancestors from his mother’s side have a family blood lineage to William Bradford, a signer of the Mayflower Compact and the Governor of the Plymouth colonies.

Goutoufas lost his hearing when he was 4 years old after a fluid buildup in both ears. His mother taught him to lip-read by reading to him every night. Eventually, he attended Plant High School, where he played football and baseball. He graduated from the University of Tampa.

He is believed to be the first fully deaf student to graduate from UT. Goutoufas went on to a career in banking.

Five years ago, surgeons placed cochlear implants in each ear.

It restored some of the lost hearing – not perfect, but at least he could hear his daughter say she loves him.

“I am someone who has overcome many obstacles and barriers in life. There are no communication issues with this,” he said. “How do you think our President communicates with the French Prime Minister? The answer is interpreters, the same with my situation.”

He got into this race after first declaring to run for the Hillsborough Clerk of Courts. His campaign slogan: I read your lips. Let’s lower your taxes.

Clever.

Still, Goutoufas has a steep hill to beat Henriquez. He also has deep Tampa roots, name recognition, and support. In his two terms in office, Henriquez has largely stayed out of the headlines – always a good thing in that job – and has modernized operations.

Goutoufas faces a formidable task.

I asked him in an email to name innovations he would introduce if elected.

These are his responses (edited for clarity):

Ensuring “Save Our Homes Act” True Value Homestead Exemption Value 

When a homeowner sells their home in Hillsborough County, the “Real Sale Value” the buyer paid is much higher than the Market Value that the Property Appraiser shows in the TRIM Notice taxpayers received in August.

Thanks to the “Save Our Homes Act,” the homeowner carries over their Homestead Exemption value to the new house. The current Property Appraiser did not update Market Values to “Real Sale Values.” Homeowners lose thousands of dollars on the tax break they should receive on the new home.

This is contrary to the intention of the “Save Our Homes Act.”

I will stay current with “Real Sales Value” for homeowners as the market value.

Port of Tampa and Airport Authority Property Tax Exemptions for Tenants 

In 1997, the Florida Legislature gave property tax exemptions to tenants at airports and ports in Florida provided they meet the criteria. The current Property Appraiser is countermanding that law by charging only some of these tenants property taxes. He is not charging other big corporate tenants.

Hillsborough is the only county trying to do this. When the Value Adjustment Board ruled in favor of the tenant to keep the exemptions, his legal counsel filed lawsuits against those tenants.

These companies create many thousands of jobs and generate billions in economic impact for the county. I will settle these lawsuits and work with those tenants to reach fair and equitable solutions for all parties involved.

Simplified Exemption Tax Freeze for Homestead Exemption 

Florida gives senior citizens tax breaks if they have lived here for 24 years and their home’s market value falls under a certain threshold.

These exemptions should be available to all Florida seniors. Upon reaching 65, their property taxes should be frozen for school taxation. I will work with the Legislature to accomplish this.

Texas has a similar law and their taxation sources are similar to Florida’s.

We can do this, too.

Written By

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.

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Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson, and Kelly Hayes.
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