To the Editor:
A sincere thank you to the Marion County Board of County Commissioners for considering, researching, and adopting this helpful exemption for the long-term elderly Marion County residents. Now let’s address a root cause for such high property taxes. I approached them with this in June of 2021 when our small subdivision was assessed for a new road, and I learned the $4,000 bill was going to be added to our property tax if we couldn’t pay $4,000 in full with a 30-day notice.
Assessments are not a tax. Yet, when the county adds a ‘road assessment’ debt to our property tax with interest (added penalty for being too poor to pay), that attachment nearly doubles that tax for the next ten years. Non-payment of property taxes leads to eviction if unable to pay.
These road assessments place residents of any age in double jeopardy of losing their home. The Marion County Board of County Commissioners was given legal authority in the mid 1980’s to start collecting road assessments by attaching them to our tax bill. By 1992, the Florida Legislature took notice of an increase in evictions of the elderly and passed the first of four protective measures against this cruel, disproportionate punishment (the Save Our Homes, Save Our Seniors, raised the exemption limit, Amendment 11 ).
These ultra-high road assessments can be anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000. They need to be collected in another manner, such as a standalone bill or a lien placed on the property to be collected at time of sale/transfer/death of the property owner. I consider it inhumane to take someone’s most valuable, necessary asset over the inability to pay for the road in front of it. So does Stan McClain, who claimed on the same day he voted against Amendment 11 that property taxes are unfair and anytime the government can tax you, then hold it over your head and say, “If you don’t pay this, I’m going to take your property from you,” it is wrong. (See a YouTube post of the Marion County Board of County Commissioners meeting on February 19, 2013).
This will be my next step, to ask the Marion County Board of County Commissioners to undo whatever gave them the ‘right’ to collect assessments this way, because I agree with Stan: it’s wrong. I’ve been paying property taxes for 42 years.
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