Florida Amendment 4
The Buzz reported a coalition of 70 Florida groups support Amendment 4.
Amendment 4 requires the Legislature to provide by general law for an ad valorem tax exemption for real property dedicated in perpetuity for conservation purposes. Further, the proposal requires land used for conservation purposes to be classified and assessed solely on the basis of character or use for the purposes of ad valorem taxation. If passed by the electors, the proposal shall be implemented by January 1, 2010.
I chatted online with Doug Matthews. He is the marketing director of Vote Yes On Amendment 4. He informed me that the coalition is made up of environmentalists and conservatives against property taxes.
"Right now, land that's under a conservation easement (permanent or temporary) is taxed according to it's highest possible use," explained Matthews. "So there's no financial incentive to set it aside."
The amendment would give a property tax break to land counties set aside for conservation purposes. Developers and wifelife supporters, such as Jim Fowler, support the amendment for different reasons. Environmentalists view Amendment 4 has a deterent to unchecked growth management. Developers can get a tax break for setting aside 75 percent of lands for conservation. The other 25 percent sees increased property values from being near green space.
Amendment 4 seems like a no-brainer. Florida's undecider, Charlie Crist, still has not stated his position. It takes true political courage not to state an opinion on an amendment with no major opposition. Crist might frame himself as a green governor and tax-cutter, if he supported the amendment. We know how Crist has been shying away from that image.
Vote yes on amendment 4.