Gov. Crist says Amendment 1 will stir home sales

Jan 25, 2008

South Florida

Gov. Crist says Amendment 1 will stir home sales

By Maria Herrera and Juan Ortega

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

January 25, 2008

Lake Worth
Gov. Charlie Crist made several stops Thursday in South Florida while campaigning for the proposed property tax legislation on Tuesday’s ballot.

About 70 supporters of the proposed legislation, most of them real estate agents, welcomed Crist to the driveway of a home in the Vernon Heights subdivision to listen to his message: Vote yes on Amendment 1.

"We’re going to let the secret out and everyone will be able to sell their home," Crist told his host Dave Murphy on his way to a podium.

The proposed constitutional amendment doubles the homestead exemption on all but school taxes and allows people to take their tax breaks with them when they move.

Proponents argue the amendment will save taxpayers money and help reignite home sales. Opponents question the constitutionality of the amendment and worry tax cuts would lead to fewer workers, such as police and firefighters, to provide services.

But on Thursday, most of the people who gathered to see Crist already had made up their minds to vote yes.

Crist’s host, Murphy, who is risk manager for the city of Lake Worth, said he’s aware of the cuts the city has had to make because of property tax legislation mandated by Tallahassee last year. But in the end, he said, "I have to make up my own mind regardless of who I work for. If this passes, I believe [the city] will be OK."

Murphy has seen his house at least triple in value since he bought it in 1993. He said he wouldn’t be able to sell his house and take his exemption elsewhere unless the amendment passes.

Event organizer Dionna Brahs, with the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches, said she hopes the amendment will help stimulate the housing market.

"We do feel many people are locked in their homes," she said. "We hope this stirs up the market."

In Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, where Crist stopped earlier Thursday, the message was different.

Crist told about 100 people at Sea Ranch Club Building A in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea that if voters reject Amendment 1, state legislators might not propose more property tax cuts any time soon.

"It’s important you keep the momentum going," he said.