Florida Amendment 1, the disregard flood resistance improvements in property value assessments measure, would revise the state’s constitution, allowing the state legislature to pass laws exempt property improvements designed to protect against flood damage from property tax assessments.
For example, a homeowner could put drains and buried culverts on his property to improve the drainage of heavy rains or build a berm to protect against a wetland overflow. But, under current law, these improvements would increase the value of the property and the property taxes the homeowner must pay, which might be a disincentive to make the improvements.
The state constitution currently allows the legislature to exempt property improvements to protect against wind damage, but not from flood damage. So, Amendment 1 would simply add flood damage protection to the list of things the state legislature can exempt from property taxes.
Amendment 1 would result in small reductions in property tax revenues to the state for flood protection improvements that would be taxed under current law. But that may be offset by lower losses to Citizens Insurance, the state-owned insurer of last resort that has to cover flood damage to hundreds of thousands of properties across Florida. It could also reduce some need for public expenditures on flood control.
Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R) argues that the state has to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on flood control to protect properties and Amendment 1 would allow the state to incentivize private property owners to take on more of that responsibility. State Rep. Linda Chaney (R) says, “Homeowners who are taking proactive measures to protect their property from flooding should not only be rewarded but they should be incentivized.”
There is no organized opposition to Amendment 1.
Florida’s state constitution currently allows property tax exemptions for wind damage protection improvements to properties. Since hurricanes tend to destroy properties by both wind and flood damage, extending property tax exemptions to flood damage protection improvements makes sense. It would incentivize property owners to reduce the damage storms inflict on their properties, and could reduce property insurance claims when the state property insurance market is in a crisis, and reduce the risks of expensive taxpayer bailouts.