Amendments Extend Homestead Exemptions to Homeowners - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Amendments Extend Homestead Exemptions to Homeowners

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Bay County, Fla. -

Many residents across the panhandle may have already received their property tax statements, but there are a few things you may want to start looking at now to lower next year's bill.

On Tuesday, Floridians cleared amendments that will grants extra homestead exemptions to wounded veterans, surviving spouses of military and emergency personnel and lastly seniors.

The passing of those amendments is a sense of pride for those who live in the Panhandle. "It's just something to be proud of to say, this is the way Florida should be." Bay County Association of Realtors past President, John Harrell says.

The electorate extended homestead exemptions to disabled veterans who were not Florida residents at the time they entered the military. Amendment 9 grants full relief to the surviving spouses of first responders and those married to servicemen and women who died in the line of duty, which the bay county association of realtors says is the right thing to do, since our community boasts the military-friendly nickname.

"Certainly, we live in an area that honors those people who serve us, risk their lives for us and generally speaking, the general public said, yea let's give those people an exemption." Harrell says.

At this time it is unclear as how much amendment 2 and 9 will affect Bay County's tax roll. On the other hand, Bay County Property Appraiser Dan Sowell says amendment 11, which extends an extra tax break to low income seniors, has the potential of costing the taxpayers $5,800 in the 1st year. It's estimated that about 320 seniors can qualify for the amendment's exemption. Currently only 2,704 seniors already have the additional senior homestead exemption.

"The big bear in the woods was amendment four, and the people of Bay County and the state of Florida had the good sense to vote against that. This is not going to wreck the budget. This is going to have a very negligible affect on the budget. The biggest part is that it's the right thing to do and it's what the people of Bay County have asked us to do." Commissioner George Gainer says.

The amendment does require the approval of commissioners at the county and city level, but Gainer says he doesn't foresee this amendment as an issue for his peers.

The Bay County Association of Realtors believes these amendments can have a positive benefit on our housing market. That include keeping veterans locally, it helps those suffering hardships, and it also rewards hard working seniors.