I have noted that some media outlets around the state have conveyed opponents concerns over the language of Florida Amendment 1 (limits on taxes to flood-improved properties) being too vague or broad. As the one who brought this proactive mitigation measure to the Florida Legislature, I would like to inform residents of our state that an implementing bill (HB 1379 in 2021) that rides along with this amendment was already passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate during the 2021 session. This implementing bill applies the mechanics and guardrails to the amendment and would self-enact on Jan. 1, 2023, if Amendment 1 passes.
This implementing bill identifies qualifying residential properties as those located within the Special Flood Hazard Areas (A & V flood zones) that currently have their first finished floor below base flood elevation. A summary of the implementing bill, frequently asked questions, and an informational whitepaper are all available on the Pinellas County Property Appraiser’s website at: https://www.pcpao.gov/learn-about/legislative-update.
As a lifelong resident of Pinellas County, I understand the vulnerability of our area and the fact that over 50% of our tax base is within the special flood hazard area. In addition, it should be pointed out that over 70% of our vulnerable single-family homes are non-waterfront properties. That is why it is critical that we make our properties more resilient to combat hurricanes and sea level rise.
Amendment 1 and the referenced implementing bill were designed to incentivize homeowners in these low-lying areas by not subjecting them to a property tax increase if they elect to voluntarily elevate their homes. This provides benefits to many stakeholders:
- Homeowners benefit by not being penalized for investing private capital to elevate their home and get their families out of harm’s way.
- Other homeowners benefit as the area’s insurance risk rating is improved by reducing the number of at-risk properties and reducing the abuse of the FEMA 50% rule.
- Taxing authorities benefit from a more resilient tax base and enhanced future property values (assessed value resets to market upon change of ownership).
While this legislation was progressing long before Hurricane Ian, that storm serves as a wakeup call and unfortunate example of why proactive steps such as Amendment 1 should be strongly considered.
Mike Twitty, MAI, CFA, is the Pinellas County Property Appraiser.