Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rowden's sinkhole stand has personal dimension

BROOKSVILLE — On Tuesday, the Hernando County Commission will hear about the millions of dollars in property value the county has lost to sinkhole damage.

One commissioner, Diane Rowden, will have firsthand knowledge of this trend.

In 2011, engineers found voids under the home Rowden owns with her husband, Jay. Last month, the Rowdens filed suit against state-run Citizens Property Insurance, saying that its plan to repair the home is "patently deficient."

The discussion Tuesday will focus on the county Property Appraiser John Emerson's policy of devaluing unrepaired sinkhole homes by 50 percent and repaired ones by 10 percent.

Rowden said her own experience hasn't changed her opinion that halving the value of sinkhole properties is going too far.

"The value shouldn't be cut like it is, and when these houses are fixed, they should be back on the rolls at 100 percent," she said.

Commissioner Wayne Dukes, who requested the presentation from Emerson, said other counties with sinkhole issues handle values differently than Hernando and he wants the commission to consider alternatives.

Every dollar of lost value adds up to shortfalls in the property tax revenue the county needs to provide services.

"To us, that's the $6 million we're short on the first day of the budget year,'' Dukes said.

He doesn't believe people who made a sinkhole claim prior to 2011 and kept the money but didn't repair the sinkhole should be allowed to keep their 50 percent value reduction.

"If you've lived in your house for eight years, do you really deserve a break on your property tax?'' he said.

Dukes also has an issue with the 10 percent reduction for repaired homes because he thinks houses are worth more after they have been fixed.

Reclaiming some of the value lost to sinkhole claims would help the county avoid raising the tax rates of other residents, Dukes said.

Rowden agrees. She said she told Emerson she didn't want her own taxes to be cut in half. Rowden said a 20 percent reduction seems more reasonable.

In 2011, the Rowdens paid $1,122.95 in ad valorem taxes, records show. Last year, they paid $401.18. Once the house is repaired, Rowden said, she wouldn't oppose an assessment of 110 percent of the original value.

But first the couple must resolve its dispute with Citizens.

The Rowdens' ranch style home was built in 1985 and moved to its current location a decade later, says the complaint. The Rowdens bought the home in 1998.

In June 2011, they discovered cracks and other damage to the house and a detached garage. An engineering company contracted by Citizens confirmed sinkhole activity. The company recommending injecting grout into 36 places under the home.

The lawsuit claims Citizens has breached its contract by not agreeing to cover those costs.

"We're not trying to gain monetarily," Diane Rowden said. "We love our house. We just want it fixed."

Rowden's sinkhole stand has personal dimension 05/02/13 [Last modified: Thursday, May 2, 2013 10:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. It's official: Hillsborough high schools move to 8:30 a.m. start time, elementary schools to go earlier

    K12

    TAMPA — Hillsborough County high schools school will be in session from 8:30 a.m. to 3:25 p.m. starting in 2018-19, the School Board decided Tuesday in a 6-0 vote.

    The Hillsborough County School Board has decided to end a compressed bus schedule that caused an estimated 12,000 children to get to school late every day. Under the new schedule, high schools will start at 8:30 a.m. instead of 7:30 a.m. Elementary schools will start at 7:40 a.m. and middle schools at 9:25 a.m. [Times files]
  2. NFL players, owners hold 'constructive' talks on issues

    Bucs

    NEW YORK — NFL players and owners met Tuesday to discuss social issues, a session Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross called "constructive" and Colts defensive back Darius Butler termed "positive."

    A coalition of advocacy groups 'take a knee' outside of a hotel where members the quarterly NFL league meetings are being held on Tuesday in New York City.  Owners, players and commissioner Roger Goodell are all expected to attend. The activists spoke of having solidarity with athletes and coaches around the country who have also kneeled in protest of racial injustice, especially in policing.
 [Getty Images]
  3. The topic will be neighborhoods as Kriseman, Baker debate one more time

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker will face off, possibly for the last time before the Nov. 7 election, in a candidate forum on Wednesday hosted by the influential Council of Neighborhood Associations.

    St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, left, and former Mayor Rick Baker during a September forum. The two will will face off, possibly for the last time before the Nov. 7 election, during  a candidate forum at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Sunshine Center, 330 5th St. N. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]
  4. The upcoming Han Solo movie is called ... 'Solo'

    Blogs

    I hope you know what you're doing, Star Wars.

  5. Sen. Nelson urges FEMA to examine high number of denied flood claims

    Banking

    Sen. Bill Nelson urged FEMA on Tuesday to ensure fairness, proper oversight and transparency in processing Hurricane Irma aid following a report by the Palm Beach Post that 90 percent of Irma claims under the National Flood Insurance Program had been denied.

    Sen. Bill Nelson is calling for FEMA to ensure the flood claims process post-Hurricane Irma is fair and ethical following reports that 90 percent of claims under the National Flood Insurance Program were denied. | [Times file photo]