Property Tax Cut Advances

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House Republicans gave preliminary approval Friday to a proposed constitutional amendment that would roll back property taxes to 2003 levels and cap local spending if voters approve.

You would also have the option of swapping out homestead property taxes for higher sales taxes.

While some poor and rural counties, many in northwest Florida, would be exempt from this ever-changing House Republican plan, other larger urban counties could lose hundreds of millions of dollars. Those counties fear they’d have to slash public safety, recreation and other programs citizens depend on.

One of those with mixed feelings is Teresa Jacobs of Orlando, an Orange County Commissioner.

“I’d love not to pay taxes, everybody would love not to pay taxes, but I also want my children to be safe in their schools, I want to be safe when I go to the grocery store. I want basic public services, so the balancing act is figuring out how we do all of that and do it fair and equitably.”

But Republican supporters of the plan say it’s not about what counties have to cut, it’s that homeowners can no longer afford their tax bills. Republicans passed the proposed amendment on a 19-12 vote, with one Republican joining Democrats in opposition.

The property tax cut plan now goes before the full House for a vote.

The present plan would see a property tax cut of $22.6 million a year in Bay County. Walton County would see a $19.9 million roll back and Okaloosa County would get $16.3 million in property tax relief.

All the other counties in this area would not see any roll back. Under this plan being considered now, 30 counties in the state would be exempt. All the other counties around here fall into that category.