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BALLOT TERMS ARE RESHAPED

A land use amendment statement struck down by the courts is rewritten to comply.

State officials on Friday revised a financial impact statement that would go on the ballot with a citizens initiative designed to give voters a say in local planning and development decisions.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled the initial statement was misleading on July 12.

The proposed constitutional amendment would require local governments to hold elections on new comprehensive land use plans or changes in existing designs. The impact statement is required to give voters an idea of how much an amendment may cost.

The Supreme Court objected to the second of five sentences in the original statement: "Over each two-year election cycle, local governments cumulatively will incur significant costs (millions of dollars statewide)."

The statement, drafted by the state's Financial Impact Estimating Conference, failed to indicate the estimate is dependent upon how many times local governments have to hold special elections to adopt or amend land use plans, the majority wrote.

The conference, made up of legislative and executive branch economists, revised the offending sentence to include a statement that "probable" costs will depend on the frequency and method of the elections.

Portions of the statement saying local costs cannot be precisely determined and state expenses would be negligible were left unchanged.

In a letter to the commission, Hometown Democracy lawyer Ross Burnaman argued local governments could pass election costs on to developers and others who seek planning amendments.

Hometown Democracy president Lesley Blackner said the amendment could save billions of dollars if voters reject developments that would require local governments to provide more services such as police and fire and build roads, schools and other infrastructure.

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