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State senator wants more tax cuts

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By Jeff M. Hardison

A recently adopted amendment to the Florida Constitution does not go far enough in cutting taxes State Sen. Charlie Dean told the Chiefland Rotary Club on Feb. 13.

Dean was in the Florida House of Representatives for the five years prior to the recent special election that put him in the Senate. Voters chose him for the District 3 seat of former Sen. Nancy Argenziano, after she became a member of the Public Service Commission.

When Dean and some other senators heard their more dramatic proposal failed to pass the Rules Committee, they knew that plan was dead, he said. Dean voted for the amendment to be put on the ballot, he said, because although it was not as far-reaching as he wanted, it would reduce property taxes.

In regard to the value of property, Dean said he is not attacking property appraisers. Property appraisers tell people that the Florida Department of Revenue forces appraisers to take certain actions, Dean said.

"I want to loosen up the noose," Dean said. "I don't want you to tell me you had to do that because the Department of Revenue made me give you that appraisal."

Dean shared a story, which he said is part true and part imaginary. Seven people lived on a street where each house was valued at $150,000, he said. Somebody died. "One of the good souls from up in New York" came and bought the house for $300,000, he said.

That caused the comparable sales in the neighborhood to increase the value of Dean's house, he said. Then, his taxes went up because the property was worth more.

"I tell you what," he said. "We have two more funerals on my road and a few more assessments, and we can't live there any more. That can happen to you the same way."

Appraisers increase property values, in part, when sales in a neighborhood show the market value has increased there.

Dean said there is not a fair situation in the taxing structure of Florida yet.

As for how leaders are going to deal with less money, Dean said he never spent money he did not have when he was sheriff.

Early in his career in Citrus County, he said, he bought used Florida Highway Patrol cruisers for $900 each.

"We took them to the Vo-tech and we painted 'em green and white," he said. "Did you know for two years in my county, people were getting arrested and they didn't know the deputies were not driving a brand new car?"

He said government leaders must learn to live within their means. This statement brought a round of applause from the Rotarians.