Judge: PACE loans must be included on tax rolls statewide

business man in glasses asking for more money
The spotlight turns on tax collectors and local governments — will they once again defy the judge?

A Leon County Circuit Court judge ruled that the Florida PACE Funding Agency program can be administered statewide, clearing the way for Floridians from the panhandle to the keys to have access to affordable financing to protect their homes against hurricanes and rising sea levels.

But with hurricane season looming in less than two months and millions of dollars of PACE projects stuck in limbo, the spotlight turns on tax collectors and local governments — will they once again defy the judge?

Some financial experts are concerned that the continued defiance of the judge by the tax collectors could call into question ratings on the state’s municipal bonds whose repayment depends on the tax collectors fulfilling their duties.

The Leon Circuit Court judge’s ruling comes on the heels of legislation passed overwhelmingly by the Florida House and Senate that would make the PACE program even better than it already is. SB 770, which is awaiting the signature of Gov. Ron DeSantis, includes key new provisions that enhance consumer protections, including reducing the maximum term of financing from 30 to 20 years, adding an ability-to-pay test and requiring that only 20 percent or less of the home’s value can be financed.

The new legislation also has an environmental benefit, allowing local governments to approve homeowners to leverage the PACE program for septic-to-sewer conversions, which will improve Florida’s water quality and protect springs and drinking water sources.

According to a bill analysis by House staff, there are an estimated 2.6 million septic systems in operation in Florida, many of which are at risk of leaching into our water table and our estuaries.

And if that weren’t enough, PACE also plays a huge role in lowering insurance premiums. As Florida’s homeowners’ insurance crisis continues and has led to multiple special sessions and intense focus from DeSantis, a University of South Florida study estimated that PACE home improvements have amounted to well over $1 billion in insurance premium savings.

The PACE program is also vital to local tradespeople, such as roofers and the like, who do this important home improvement work and keep many Floridians employed.

The ball now lies squarely in the court of local officials. With hurricane season looming, liens being filed on low- and moderate-income homeowners and tradespeople left in the lurch, will they continue to defy a judge’s ruling?

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of FloridaPolitics.com, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


7 comments

  • Earl Pitts "THE NEW MAYOR OF REALVILLE" American

    April 2, 2024 at 6:28 pm

    Many local tax collecters along with the local Govornments are Dook 4 Brains Leftys and often Judges word an order like this one to appear to be doing what the Legislator ordered while leaving the backdoor of their order wide open for their local Dook 3 Brains Leaders to defy Florida’s Sage Legislator and Govornor.
    Earl Pitts Anerican

    Reply

    • Earl Pitts "THE NEW MAYOR OF REALVILLE" American

      April 2, 2024 at 6:31 pm

      Dook 4 Brains -pardon what appears to be my. Earl Pitts American’s first typo of 2024.
      The Sage Earl of Politics

      Reply

  • George Romagnoli

    April 3, 2024 at 9:18 am

    Peter, you think PACE is “affordable?” Your whole article sounds like marketing materials from the PACE industry.

    This is from Pasco Tax Collector Mike Fasano’s website:
    In most cases, PACE Program loans charge interest, usually between 6% and 9% per year, over 20 years, which in many cases may be higher than other loan financing. You should ask about any low interest loans available, like utility sponsored programs, federal weatherization programs or a lower rate loan at your bank or credit union with a second mortgage or a home equity line of credit.

    Reply

    • Quinn

      April 3, 2024 at 10:12 am

      Tell me what loan financing has lower interest than 6% and 9% per year? The other options listed are not nearly as accessible, especially for low-income homeowners, people with bad credit, or people needing essential repairs immediately. Try again.

      Also, you’re trusting a Tax Collector’s statement over a reputable journalist? Sounds like you’re the one falling for marketing materials lol.

      And did you know every PACE origination requires a recorded ‘confirmation of terms’ phone call where all terms of the financing are discussed with a REAL PERSON. These are adults, they know what they’re signing up for. If they can’t afford it in the end, that’s a different issue. Most people who use PACE financing are beyond pleased, and wouldn’t have been able to pay for needed projects otherwise – I am one of these people and there are real stats showing satisfaction rates.

      Do your research next time. Though I fully suspect you just work for Mike Fakesano

      Reply

      • George Romagnoli

        April 6, 2024 at 6:38 am

        I worked for Pasco County, not Fasano (thanks for throwing ad hominem attacks around) and I brought PACE to the County. I saw the limits that were placed on property owners on who they could select, who had contracts higher than the norm. There are better programs for low income residents out there.

        Reply

  • monica

    April 3, 2024 at 10:32 pm

    This is my first read on pace. I understand it is a program for elders with home degradation problems. Almost like feme. I wish us all luck in that funding opportunity.

    Reply

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