Mayor Apgar column on Amendment 1

Mayor Bob Apgar recently wrote a column to the Daytona Beach News-Journal on Amendment 1, which will be on the ballot on November 6. We have provided the text version of that column.

April 11, 2019

The News-Journal’s recent editorial opposing Amendment 1 was well-reasoned. I agree with its conclusion to Vote No but wanted to emphasize a critical point: Amendment 1 is not a tax cut—it’s a tax shift. Some benefit—the rest pay.A substantial number of Florida property owners—including local small businesses—receive no benefit from Amendment 1 and may face tax increases.  

Many homesteaded properties would lose out, too.  Why? Amendment 1 targets tax breaks to properties valued between $100,000 and $125,000—about 24percent of all Florida property owners. Those in more expensive or more modest homes could face bigger tax burdens and tax hikes.

Our property appraiser estimates a significant majority of property owners in Holly Hill (90%), Deltona (79%), Edgewater (71%), Orange City (69%) and Daytona Beach (60%) receive NO BENEFIT from Amendment 1. 40% of DeLand’s property owners receive no benefit from it.  Amendment 1 affects both your city and county taxes. So the tax shift is among taxpayers within a city and also among taxpayers within different cities.

Amendment 1 represents a double-whammy for businesses, small or large.  

Besides their likely increased share of the tax burden, it also subjects these job-creators to paying more because a business’s taxable value typically rises faster than that of a home.  That’s bad for business – and bad for Florida’s economy.

Similarly, renters receive no benefit from Amendment 1 and likely face higher rents as landlords usually pass increases in property taxes onto their tenants. If Amendment 1 passes, the potential tax shift to businesses, investors and tenants increases considerably.Florida’s tax system should work for all owners – not just some.

Our property appraiser estimates DeLand will lose $595,000, Deltona $603,000,

Ormond Beach $790,000 and Port Orange $929,000 in tax revenue from Amendment 1.  Many local governments will feel pressure to recover Amendment 1 shortfalls by raising the millage rate which could mean higher taxes for everyone.  

If Amendment 1 passes, Tallahassee politicians will have burdened local communities with a bad choice: increase property taxes or reduce city services

our citizens value. Worse still, its sponsors know that and even suggested that local governments increase taxes to pay for that.

One other impact of Amendment 1, not often discussed, is also a tax shift.  Amendment 1 holds Florida’s 29 fiscally constrained counties harmless from Amendment 1. Translation-- the Legislature must send some state revenue to those 29 counties to replace those counties’ revenue lost by the effect of Amendment 1.  Why protect some counties and their taxpayers but not all? Might some of that revenue sent to those counties have benefitted Volusia County’s governments as grants or appropriations?

Amendment 1 also violates a simple idea that’s embedded in Florida’s constitution: Government closest to the people governs best.  It means we trust local communities to set their own priorities and decide how to pay for them.  Instead, Tallahassee politicians devised an unfair one-size-fits-all tax scheme that benefits some at the expense of others.  

Florida’s ad valorem tax system is a complicated mess.  Amendment 1 does not fix that.  It makes the problem worse, more convoluted and more unfair for Florida’s families and business owners.   Amendment 1 creates far more “losers” than “winners.”  If we’re going to cut taxes, it should be for everyone- not just a small minority of homeowners.    The Legislature should stop offering piecemeal, unfair tax amendments and embrace a fairer, more sensible and comprehensive approach to property taxation that is fair to all Floridians.  

It’s time to send Tallahassee that message: Vote No on Amendment 1.


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