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Representative Flores Files Property Tax Amendment

Property appraisers would be prohibited from raising property tax assessments in declining local markets under a proposed constitutional amendment again filed for legislative action.

Citing the need to remedy an unintended consequence of the Save our Homes amendment, backers of the plan say local officials are forced to increase assessed values on property regardless of whether the market value of the property has risen or not.

Current law requires property to be assessed at the lesser of 3 percent or the Consumer Price Index, a national barometer commonly used to estimate inflation. Backers of the proposed change say the original Save our Homes amendment did not contemplate a situation occurring around the state in which local market values have declined.

On Monday of this week, Rep. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, filed HJR 27, which asks voters in November to approve the proposal that would then take effect on assessments made after Jan. 1.

Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, and Rep. Marcelo Llorente, R-Miami, filed similar bills last year. The proposals died before being taken up by the full chambers.

State economists were not asked to evaluate the fiscal impact of last year’s proposals. But the panel estimated a similar measure that also failed last year would cost local governments $57 million in lost revenue for fiscal year 2011-20012. That loss would grow to $113 million by 2013.

Flores' proposal is the latest suggested tweak affecting local property taxes. Voters in November will also be asked to approve a pair of assessment caps and additional homestead exemptions.

Amendment 2, passed by lawmakers during the recently concluded session, would provide an additional homestead exemption to members of the United States military who were deployed in the previous year on active duty outside the United States if approved by voters.

Amendment 3, also approved for the ballot by lawmakers earlier this year, would limit the increase of assessments on non-residential property to 5 percent and provide an additional exemption up to $100,000 for first-time homebuyers.

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