I’m opposed to Amendment 4, which is on the Nov. 6 ballot, and I’m not the only one. The Florida League of Women Voters is against it. Editorial boards across Florida, including The Miami Herald, are against it. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities — a nonprofit think tank based in Washington, D.C. — released a report with this headline: “Amendment 4 Would Cost Florida Jobs, Raise Taxes on Year-Round Residents, and Force Cuts in Public Services.”
Amendment 4 would shift a significant portion of the tax burden away from the owners of nonhomestead property — including large corporations — and put it onto long-time residents. Also, it would strip away revenue that cities and agencies need in order to provide core services.
If Amendment 4 passes, it’s estimated that by 2016, the loss of revenue to local governments statewide could reach $471 million. That’s the equivalent of 7,656 police officers’ salaries.
Who pays if public safety budgets are gutted? Is it out-of-state landlords, or visitors who can afford a Florida vacation home? No — it’s long-time residents. Who pays if library hours are cut, parks are closed or roads are not maintained? Long-time residents.
I understand the call to do more with less and find greater efficiencies. We are. But local agencies already are being stretched to the limit. If Amendment 4 passes, non-school government entities in Broward County could lose more than $100 million in tax revenues through 2016.
With exemptions already in place, approximately 15 percent of Sunrise homeowners — representing more than 5,000 residences — already pay zero property tax to help with parks and rec, events, road clean up, public maintenance, police protection and social services. Since fiscal year 2007, the city has lost more than $7 million in property-tax revenues.
To adjust, we have made some radical changes and reduced our workforce dramatically. Our ad-valorem tax rate today is less than it was in fiscal year 2007. However, Amendment 4 will take an unsustainable situation and make it worse. It will place the burden squarely on long-time residents for the benefit of corporations and out of state part-time investors. Vote No.
Michael J. Ryan, mayor, Sunrise