Sunday, October 02, 2005

FL lawmakers looking to close Green-belt loophole

Just heard on the local news that FL lawmakers are trying to reformulate a good 50-year old law to make it even better for the people of Florida (yay!!) and stick it to the developers who have been abusing it.

There's a law on the books here which gives working farms a tax break on their land, costing them $500 per acre instead of what it would be for residential zones. Well, savvy developers in the last G-d only knows how many years have been taking advantage of this law by grazing cattle in their construction zones before homes are built and sold. This means they can buy several hundred acres of farm land, graze as little as half a dozen cows that they have rented from "Rent-A-Cow" companies, and pay a fraction of what the land should and will be taxed as soon as the cows are gone. We're talking about land that goes for about $250,000 per acre. Economists estimate that these developers legally cheat the state out of $750,000,000 per year in tax revenues. The American Farm Trust and other such organizations are pushing for reform because they say it is unfair to the farmers for whom the tax break was intended.

On the other side of the issue is Carlos Lopez-Cantera, a State Representative from the Miami district, who is also a developer himself, and he (oh-so surprisingly) doesn't see what the problem is. Here's what he was quoted as saying to FOX13 News: "The developer benefits cause he gets a tax break. The cattlemen benefit because they have land to put their cattle on because they have no where else to go. And the county will end up benefiting as well." Yeah, well, there isn't a sentence there that I don't have a problem with for a number of reasons.

Let's hope that FL lawmakers will actually fix this law and close that loophole.

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