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AMENDMENT 1 MAY BE GOOSE EGG

Whew! Aren't I the lucky one? I figure there's a whopping $240 savings on my typical, average home value now that Amendment 1 is said and done. Yet I'll still have an end-of-the-year tax bill that's three times that of my neighbors.

The Hernando County Property Appraiser's office informed me I had the misconception that I would have an additional savings because the value of my home plummeted in 2007 and property taxes are billed a year in arrears. A kind county employee explained the $25,000 increase in the Homestead Exemption under Amendment 1 would be closer to $15,000 because school taxes are not inclusive of the tax reduction, and the 3 percent assessment cap of Save Our Homes still applies. So, that $240 is the total sum of possible savings.

Gov. Charlie Crist poorly represented the understanding of Amendment 1, just as the Times professed. Yet I'm still a bit confused!

I'll still owe the county twice the amount of my neighbors who have stayed in their homes in excess of 10 years, and three times than of those of 20 years. I'll still be paying a far higher share of taxes than those same neighbors who will continue to benefit from the same level of county services. Thousands of other homeowners across the state are right there beside me.

The neighbors whose tax bills are a third of my own can downsize to another location and save their homes much more easily than I can. If I should move, I would still pay three times as much in property and school taxes as they. I'll cross my fingers when county commissioners give approval of the 2009 budget and hope they don't inch up the millage rate.

I can take the overall savings in my devalued property taxes of maybe $240 and apply it to my home insurance premium reduction, which failed to materialize, also as promised by Gov. Crist.

Some homeowners made out like bandits from the passage of Amendment 1, but there are just as many of us with little chance of reprieve. We've been sentenced to a foreseeable future of inequity because the Florida Legislature will rest easy that the people have mandated what boils down to the status quo. It may be deemed unnecessary to pursue other tax reform.

Demographics of voter approval of the constitutional amendment would surely prove to be retirees. They are more astute to issues and have the wherewithal to get out and vote at their leisure. I applaud each and every one of them for their fortitude, but the outcome may have been different if a broader range of voters had participated in the primary election.

Keep in mind there is a class-action lawsuit that claims the Save Our Homes portability provision discriminates and violates the state Constitution. So, don't count those dollars saved, because Amendment 1 may be one big goose that laid a fool's golden egg.

The only way for me to make out ahead in this economic mess is to sell my current home and relocate to a cozy trailer valued at little more than $50,000; my property tax and insurance relief would finally give me financial relief of owning a home in Florida. I can't expect it otherwise.

Ronald Rae Spring Hill

Re: Realities of road cannot be ignored - Feb. 1 letter

Once upon a time on U.S. 19 ...

The Rev. Robert L. Edgar's title obviously owes more to his ecclesiastical training than to any love for "revs'' in the context of RPM, NASCAR or smokin' rubber. Recent letters on this perpetual subject only repeat that there are two ideologies in the unwritten manual of highway driving: techniques and etiquette.

Max and Mildred Gruntoe, 74 years ancient and (fictional) retirees of course, pull out onto U.S. 19. They are going to make a left turn 6 miles ahead and this means they must immediately assume ownership of the fast-track side of the road. They never drive quicker than the posted limit minus 15 mph. Mildred says Max's heart is not what Shands would like it to be.

Jim and Gazeba Hasty, 62 years young and hot to trot, are creatures of a different persuasion. Jim likes to see the needle in the red and Gazeba likes to see Jim when his testosterone is pumping. This couple are big on high-fiber diets, exercise machines and risque movies.

All is good until Jim and Gazeba find themselves trapped behind Max and Mildred. Then the fireworks are ready to rip. Max is gazing at the world thru thick magnifying lenses, and in his rearview mirror, Jim's hot-rod is just a blur of color. The latter is busy cursing the former while flashing his lights and blasting the horn.

Max is not about to move over, but he is glad he is wearing his extra-absorbent underwear, a product on which he quite literally depends. His heart rate has kicked into hyperdrive and Mildred is nervously wondering if the time could be right for him to pop a nitroglycerin tablet.

Thankfully, this gladiatorial contest of potential road warriors is interrupted when the FHP cruiser turns on its display lighting. Broderick Crawford-like, the patrolman emerges from the vehicle and gives both parties his standard speech on safety and accident prevention.

Just another happy day on U.S. 19.

Chris Lloyd, Lecanto

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