House votes to make it harder to raise local property taxes
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property tax with currency
The bill would force localities to live by the same rules as the state.

The state of Florida may raise the voting threshold for millage rate hikes, with a future House Speaker’s legislation passing the House by an 85-21 vote without debate, even though a similar bill is stalled out for now in the Senate.

HB 1195, which would ban localities from raising property tax over the prior year’s rate without a two-thirds vote by the local legislative body, is being carried by GOP Rep. Sam Garrison.

The bill would force localities to live by the same rules as the state, where a constitutional amendment requiring a legislative two-thirds supermajority to raise taxes passed six years ago.

An amendment from the sponsor gave the Department of Revenue emergency rulemaking authority to implement the act on Thursday.

The bill would go into effect in July, imposing the supermajority requirement for any millage increase after this year should it become law. Many municipalities pass their budgets in the summer, and this legislation would affect budgets starting as soon as October.

“Floridians are being hit with a one-two punch of increased property insurance rates and inflation. The last thing working families need is an unwarranted property tax increase too. Local governments have the power to raise property taxes, but they should only do so if there is a clear consensus that it is absolutely necessary,” Garrison said in a prepared statement after one committee stop along the way.

The original filing of the Clay County Republican’s bill contemplated a two-thirds vote in a referendum to be held during the General Election, but that version was withdrawn.

The Senate product (SB 1322) being carried by Republican Sen. Blaise Ingoglia of Spring Hill did not get a hearing in Appropriations, so it’s uncertain whether this bill has a path to law at this writing.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has been the Northeast Florida correspondent for Florida Politics since 2014. He writes for the New York Post and National Review also, with previous work in the American Conservative and Washington Times and a 15+ year run as a columnist in Folio Weekly. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


7 comments

  • Hung Wiil

    March 1, 2024 at 5:19 pm

    The bill has a path. It is a Council Substitute, and the Senate agreed to take the House version. It has already been scheduled for Senate debate. PASS. THIS. BILL.

    • Nope

      March 1, 2024 at 5:56 pm

      Pass it. But most counties already require a 2/3 majority. That hasn’t helped. Also don’t know if this bill would cover school boards, who have their own independent taxing authority and, at least in my county, no real oversight or accountability. If they give too much runway on this thing we could see a run on raising millage just to pay billionaire welfare for example a stadium nobody wants and developments built in flood zones that mysteriously burn to the ground, plus 2 generations’ worth of unfunded pension liabilities. A weak, feckless city council and an unaccountable one-term liberal tax and spend mayor’s office is a bad mix.
      This bill also will not stop property tax overassessments happening all over the state.
      But yeah. Pass it.

      • Hung Wiil

        March 1, 2024 at 8:12 pm

        In two sentences, then, what do you propose to fix these problems? We have supermajority requirements in my city and county, and it helps a lot. What is your solution?

        • MH/Duuuval

          March 1, 2024 at 9:53 pm

          The last two tax increases in Duval were for the public school system. Voters put the increases on separate ballots and each was passed by the electorate.

          Not that the electorate is always correct in its judgment long term.

          Perhaps a monetary threshold could be imposed, so that when the Jags fans want the rest of us to join them in providing a billionaire franchise owner with a billion tax dollars for a new stadium, we all get to vote. (And to think a new jail is also being floated. Hmm…jail racks for the masses and/or luxury boxes for the elites?)

        • Nope

          March 2, 2024 at 7:09 pm

          MH/Duuuval beat me to it. It’s one thing to raise taxes to pay for services because the city is growing, balanced budget, hardening against storms, etc. It’s quite another to do it because the city keeps throwing millions (and now billions) of taxpayer-on-the-hook dollars at developers for projects that benefit the owners not the city, which the city then has to pay for and not even able to collect taxes on because they give away a generation’s worth of tax collection as part of the grants and freebees. Duval has nearly $4B in unfunded liabilities–liabilities to the very front line people who serve the community. Yet they want to borrow from an increasingly expensive and inaccessible bond market and the very pension funds they’ve underfunded for pennies on the dollar to pay a billionaire for his private enterprise and private profits. Who do you think is on the hook for that? I am against state overreach but I think the taxpaying citizens ought to have a vote for that. They will not. It will be up to city council–the same people whose campaigns are paid for by the billionaire profiteer and developers who get free lunches. The state can establish some kind of fiscal governance norm that says no municipality with x debt to income ratio or % overhang in unfunded liabilities (read city services, bills, pensions, etc.) can then borrow more money to pay for projects which are not critical to city functioning until their books are cleaned up. I know this is dreaming but other cities have established these norms in other states. It’s not about paying taxes. It’s about where that money is going. The school board increased in Duval went to the School Board general fund and NOT to teacher salaries as they promised. There is no transparency or accountability in how they spend that money. They are not required to provide that to the public or to city council. I am the kid of a teacher and know first hand how this stuff works. I know and love many teachers who are very frustrated about the DCSB hoodwinking. It’s not about the taxes, it’s about the governance. Transparency and accountability. The sales tax increased to pay for infrastructure upgrades? Ask anyone on the school board to produce a report on where that money went. Ask teachers who work in the schools where ceilings are falling down and the HVAC is broken and they have mold and have been begging for years. It’s about accountability.

          The other aspect–assessments– I think the cities should be required to modernize their property tax offices instead of running like it’s 1980. Jacksonville gets assessed in January each year. They don’t send notices on tax assessments until mid September, giving you until September 30, effectively 2 weeks for us every year, to appeal. You have to get an in-person appointment (for a city over 1 million people) to appear before the Value Adjustment Board, which is not part of the Property Tax appraiser’s office. They are not required to provide the data by which they assessed your property. The VAB is made up of a sub committee of city council members who do not have real estate or market expertise and thus make emotional and arbitrary judgments. It is not a data driven process. That’s if you can actually get an appointment, take off a day from work, etc. They make it impossible on purpose. It needs to be expanded, giving people more time, making the city more available and accountable, and the process more transparent. I have spoken with my assessor to understand why we are assessed at nearly the same amount as our neighbors whose house is twice as large with a finished guest house, fully renovated, on a larger lot, bought the same time frame, and I know what they paid as it’s a matter of public record. They’re not even being taxed for the finished guest house (I checked). The city is not required to provide data why or how they estimate it. So this again is a matter of governance–transparency and accountability. I think if the state could or should do anything at all, it should be in establishing standards for accessibility, transparency, accountability, and rules about bad debt. I can dream, can’t I?

    • Dangerous Florida, Now Fully Defunded

      March 2, 2024 at 5:32 am

      Firefighters, police and DPWs all depend on property taxes.

      Don’t complain about services, Christina Pooshaw-sick-puppet, when your fields burn like in Tejas this week…

      • Nope

        March 2, 2024 at 9:22 pm

        it’s not about the taxes, it’s about where the money goes. Public service, services, infrastructure, all underfunded and underpaid. Sweetheart crony deals, unabated development that does not service the public or the public good and creates more risk and debt, way too much. Our neighborhood floods every time there’s a normal storm. Not because of surges or climate change, but because the city has refused to fix the broken pump and the drainage year after year. Just can’t find the will, time, or money. Flood risk rating for our street went up 2 markers in the last 2 years. Why? They don’t site it for surges. Nope. They site poor unaddressed infrastructure. Drainage issues. People have to drive trucks because normal cars float away. Wasn’t like that 10 years ago. But we can find $800M for the shipyards for some billionaire dream scheme in a flood zone and toxic dump EPA superfund area nobody goes to, or billions to fund downtown development also in the worst unaddressed flood zone and underfunded area in the city nobody wants to go to, all because it’s being driven by billionaire profiteers. And those poor people have never gotten the services they needed before and now will be flushed out of their homes. Nope. I’d happily pay taxes when those taxes go to the actual public good–safety, fire, teachers, infrastructure, waste collection, roads that aren’t crumbling, paying existing debt. The basics! But no. We have to keep our developers in good shoes, tax free. Duval has operated for decades on the growth by acquisition strategy. That’s all fine and good until the money runs out and the chickens come home to roost. So I will fight them every step of the way.

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