Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Date: Sep 12, 2006 8:33 AM
Subject: High costs make Citrus bad place for retirees

This St. Petersburg Times (http://www.sptimes.com) story has been sent to you from: jamie

High costs make Citrus bad place for retirees
By Letters to the Editor
Published September 11, 2006


'High costs make Citrus bad place for retirees'

Editor: I am a 64-year-old recent retiree who moved to Citrus Hills in March. Recently, I received my new tax bill for the purchase of a 12-year-old house. My decision to move to Citrus County was based on years of research of Florida areas; Citrus offered the best in terms of value and taxes. That was two years ago.

Being aware of the inflated price I paid for my home, I made sure to inquire about the taxes. I was told not to expect to pay the average tax of the previous owner, but about $500 to $600 more. The fact is, the real estate agents knew the taxes were going to be so outrageous that it would have jeopardized the sale.

Look at the "impact fees" on this new homeowner:

Assessed value last year: $158,000. Property value this year: $286,100.

The deal closed in March 2006 and instead of prorating the homestead exemption, the government pockets the money.

Property taxes last year: $2,418.08. Property taxes this year: $5,081.93, an increase of $2,600.

Follow the rise of the assessed value of this property over the past seven years: 2000, $140,600; 2001, $145,000; 2002, $147,700; 2003, $151,000; 2004, $154,000; 2005, $158,000; 2006, $286,000.

The taxes from 2000 should not have risen higher than inflation (1 percent). Look what happens when incompetence and greed are orchestrated by our elected officials.

Does anybody want to buy a $286,000 house with $5,100 a year in property taxes? The commissioners are elected to represent us and to protect us from government intrusion, but they do just the opposite. They feed the monstrous bureaucracy of county government through high taxes.

Those homeowners sitting on their "grandfathered" taxes, beware; there goes the "inflated value" of your home once this new tax hits the media statewide.

In another twist, the commissioners have made you feel lucky to have a $25,000 exemption plus a 3 percent cap in assessments per year. In 10 years, the cap represents a 30 percent tax increase. Add the fact that the commissioners representing us have neglected to offer a senior exemption of $25,000.

Why not? Maybe because they need to pay for all those unnecessary new employees.

Why can't logic prevail anymore? Most citizens living in this county are seniors, some retired and some forced back to work because of taxes (including a 6 cent gas tax - with gas 10 cents less in surrounding counties).

Most all retirees live on fixed incomes (except, of course, government employees with cost-of-living adjustments), so how can seniors keep pace with inflation?

Many states cap property taxes for seniors so they can survive all this government intrusion. Why do our commissioners hold back a lousy $25,000 senior exemption? Why are the commissioners so out of touch?

Commissioners, you have opened my eyes to the future, and that future is not in Citrus County. Every reason for moving to Citrus County is no longer operative. Water rates are up substantially, gas is higher than surrounding counties, utility rates are higher and property assessments and rates border on unethical. My woe today is everyone's in the future.

James Vellane, Hernando


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