Election 2008: Business primer for Florida state amendments

Oct 24, 2008

Amendment 3 would give property tax breaks for renewable energy investments.

by Mark Szakonyi
Mark Freerks

South Florida Business Journal-
-October 24, 2008

With dozens of local races and a presidential election at a critical time for the economy, it’s easy for the business community to forget about proposed state constitutional amendments on the Nov. 4 ballot. Here’s a rundown on the amendments that affect business, their potential impacts and the likelihood of each passing.

Amendment 3:  Hurricane and energy tax breaks

    * The rundown: Homeowners would get property tax breaks on storm protection and renewable energy investments made to their homes.
    * Impact: Companies that provide storm mitigation or renewable energy devices, such as solar panels, are expected to get a boost in business if the amendment passes. Aside from energy savings and insurance breaks, Floridians could save at least $3.4 million in taxes in the first year, according to the Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research.

The outcome will likely be close, as 29 percent of polled Florida residents approve it, 26 percent are against and the rest are undecided, according to a Mason-Dixon Florida Poll in early October.

Amendment 4: Conservation property tax break

    * The rundown: Landowners will receive property tax exemptions for any lots they put aside for preservation.
    * Impact: Preserving areas of natural beauty can help maintain Florida’s attractiveness to businesses. If passed, the amendment will spur property owners to decide what they will develop and what they won’t. Preserving land near developed land could also give the real estate industry a boost and give buyers an aesthetic incentive.

The amendment is expected to pass, as 37 percent of polled Florida residents approve it, 19 percent are against and the rest are undecided, according to the Mason-Dixon poll.

Amendment 6: Working waterfront tax break

    * The rundown: Working waterfront property, such as marinas, would be appraised at current use, rather than “highest and best use,” if the amendment passes.

    * Impact: Passage of the amendment would help protect the state’s marine industry, which has been increasingly taxed out of business as condominiums and waterfront resorts raise the potential value of waterfront property.

Its passage is likely, considering 33 percent of polled resident are for it, 20 percent are against it and 47 percent are undecided, according to the Mason-Dixon poll.

Amendment 8: Community college funding

    * The rundown: Municipalities would gain the ability to levy a sales tax to increase funding for their community colleges.

    * Impact: Community colleges are leaders in affordable job training, but recent cuts have limited their impact in this tough economic climate. Opponents say it is unclear how the funding would work for community colleges that serve residents from more than one county.

About 37 percent of polled residents are for it, 40 percent are against and the rest are undecided.