The Dade County Board of Education will hold a special called meeting tonight, Monday, Feb. 4, to consider a resolution on amending the county's "65/5" tax exemption. The meeting is at 6 p.m. in the B of E's offices off Highway 136 in front of Dade High.
(Photo: File shot of Dr. Harris)
The exemption allows county residents 65 and over to exempt their homes and up to five acres around it from the school portion of the county real estate tax. The school tax makes up the biggest part of a typical county tax bill, usually around 65 percent or more, and since it is an ad valorem tax, based on a property's assessed value, it saves those with particularly opulent homes a great deal of money.
But since the exemption was passed in 2005 and enacted in 2006 under then-County Executive Chairman Ben Brandon, its original champion, proponents for the school have complained it is starving the schools for the benefit of those who can best afford to pay taxes. The 65/5 exemption was a campaign issue in last year's board of education elections--during which all candidates expressed cautious support for changing it--and now the board as seated for the next two years takes it back up early in the year.
Dr. Jan Harris, superintendent of schools, said by phone on Monday that the resolution to be considered tonight proposes grandfathering in those who have already taken advantage of it. In any case, she said, the resolution does not propose changing tax law, only putting the matter to the voters in a referendum.
She said that Dade's representatives in the state government, Rep. Colton Moore and Sen. Jeff Mullis, agree with the board on this. "Everybody wants to give it to the people," she said.