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Guest Opinion: The facts on the $25,000 Constitutional Amendment

May 10, 2017
North Fort Myers Neighbor

Here is the real truth: NOT FAKE NEWS

Not: "Chicken Little, the sky is falling:"

Government will always get more money when values are rising. Just not as much of your tax dollars to spend by passing this additional $25,000 exemption.


Historically, when values are increasing, taxing authorities will use the prior year's millage and then say to the public at budget hearings, "You should be proud of us; we held the line on taxes, we didn't raise the millage." The biggest lie in government.

The Governor uses this argument when generating taxes for the RLE (Required Local Effort) for school funding. It is a tax increase assuming values are increasing, which they are statewide.

One of three things will happen every year:

* The millage will stay the same, as the vast majority do;

* The millage will increase, which rarely happens; or

* The millage will be lowered, as has occasionally happened.

In all three scenarios, government will get more money than it got the previous year.

If this amendment was passed last year, the Lee County general fund would have received $10 million less in property taxes. Lee County still would have received an increase of $12 million dollars had they left the millage the same. Kudos to Lee County Commissioners and County Manager Desjarlais for lowering Lee County's millage. Had this amendment been in place, the County still would have generated $4,533,978 more tax revenue than it had the prior year.


Local government will not be getting millions of dollars less than prior years, nobody will be laid off, programs will continue to be funded, and there will be additional millions of your money to spend. But, if you're homesteaded, you will be paying an average of $250 less every year going forward assuming your value is greater than $125,000.

Other property owners will not see their taxes go up; there is no shift of tax burden because of the additional $25,000 exemption. Homesteaders will see their taxable value go down and local governments will get less to spend, and still see an increase in tax revenue.

A win/win for both the homesteaders and local government.

-Ken Wilkinson is the Lee County Property Appraiser. He also is known as the father of Save Our Homes, Florida's property assessment limitation amendment, approved by voters in 1992.



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