Crist allows interim property assessments to help homeowners affected by BP disaster
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07/21/10 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:

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Gov. Charlie Crist has taken a step to reduce property taxes for homeowners in counties affected by the BP oil disaster. In an executive order today, Crist said it would apply to the 26 Florida counties that are currently under a state of emergency, including Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.

"I have not asked BP's permission to dot his. we got it from the Constitution."

Crist says the interim property assessments will help homeowners file claims for economic damages against BP.

"I have granted property appraisers the authority to provide an interim assessment of any property that may have dropped in value because of the oil spill. Property owners can then use that documentation to file a claim against BP or any other responsible party. Several property appraisers have contacted me concerned about the loss of property value. By law, all property was assessed for tax purposes on January the first. However, the oil spill may have made those values unrealistic for some home owners. An interim assessment will give property owners the documentation they need to hold BP accountable."

The actual amount of property taxes a homeowner owes might not change, if it is based on the original assessment. But the governor says he is open to the possibility of rebates to homeowners – like has been done in the past after tornadoes and hurricanes. He says he is concerned about whether BP will pay the claims in time before local tax rolls are affected.

"We're concerned about everything, as we always are. But this would be a claim against BP. They would be the responsible party to pay."

Crist says each county property appraiser would establish how much each claim against BP should be and their office would pay for the reevaluations.

"We don't think it should be that costly. I mean it really gives the authority, Mary Ellen, to the affected counties; property appraisers to undertake that duty. The reason we felt that was appropriate is, obviously those offices are the best equipped in order to have those re-evaluations complete, accurate, and helpful to the property owners in their claim to BP."

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