Gov. Crist disbands Bush's property tax reform panel

Article Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel
Published February 7 , 2007


TALLAHASSEE -- Gov. Charlie Crist has disbanded former Gov. Jeb Bush's Property Tax Reform Committee, an aide informed members in a letter released Wednesday.

Christian Weiss, the governor's policy coordinator, wrote to the committee members thanking them on behalf of Crist for their work, including a preliminary report that outlined tax reform options. The committee was not due to make recommendations until later this year.

Crist last week offered his own property tax reform recommendations to the Florida Legislature without waiting for the committee created by his predecessor to finish its work.

Weiss wrote that Crist had promised property tax relief in his campaign last year ``and therefore cannot wait to benefit from the findings of this committee next December.''

Crist has proposed that tax reform changes to the Florida Constitution be sent to the voters at a special election this year so they can be implemented sooner. Waiting until next year's regular election would delay any tax relief until 2009.

Crist wants to allow local governments to double the tax exemption given to homeowners from $25,000 to $50,000 and let them take tax cap benefits -- a 3 percent per year limit -- with them if they move.

The governor also wants to put a similar cap on taxes paid for business and rental properties and exempt small businesses tax on such personal property as machinery and equipment.

The Legislature, meanwhile, has begun a series of town hall meetings across the state that will continue through the end of February to obtain comments from citizens and local officials before taking any action.