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Environmentalists Push Amendment 4

October 23rd, 2008 by flanews

Environmentalists and business leaders are pushing an amendment on Novemberís ballot that will give landowners a tax break if they delay development or promise never to develop their land. As Whitney Ray tells us, supporters of amendment four say the idea is to reward people who protect the environment.

The state provides tax exemptions for people who grow food or raise livestock, but there is no relief for landowners who keep their property intact.

A campaign is under way to slow development in Florida. Amendment 4 eliminates property taxes for people who promise never to develop their land, but thereís also tax relief for people who canít hold out forever. Those exemptions are unclear.

There is a possible loophole lawmakers may have to consider if Amendment 4 passes and thatís how to handle property owners who conserve their land, receive a tax break only later to sell the property or develop it.

Supporters of the amendment say lawmakers will mandate a time period for people who donít want to conserve their property forever.

ďYou would say, on this 100 acres, itís going to be classified conservation use, its only going to be for 10 years. It will not be perpetual, but I will pay a lower tax rate, Iíll still pay taxes, but it will be a lower rate and Iíll have to do proactive conservation steps,Ē said Chairman of Citizens for Conservation, Preston Robertson.

Donald Morris voted yes on four.

ďAny time you can cut and reduce Iím all for that,Ē said Donald.

Six out of 10 voters must approve the amendment for it to take effect in 2010. With the state facing a third year of declining tax revenues, some people have concerns about how a property tax cut might affect government funds. Tax experts say amendment 4 wouldnít hurt state tax collections and would only have a minor impact on county funds.

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