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October 28, 2008

BoatU.S: "Yes" on Amendment 6 in Florida keeps waterfronts "working" and accessible

Public, boaters, and business have big stakes in issue

In Florida, public access to the waterfront and water-dependent businesses are being taxed out of existence. That's due to the state's inequitable tax code that appraises every single waterfront parcel -- marina, boat ramp, commercial fishing operation or any other water-dependent facility -- at "highest and best use" tax rates, not what the property is actually used for. On November 4, Sunshine State voters will have a chance to level the playing field by voting "yes" on Amendment 6, which if passed will allow waterfront parcels to be assessed on their present use as a marina, launch ramp or other waterfront business, and help keep the state's waterways accessible to all Floridians.

"Currently in the state of Florida, a small marina with public access is taxed as having the same revenue potential as a multi-unit waterfront condominium development," said BoatU.S. Vice President of Government Affairs Margaret Podlich. "It's only a matter of time before a marina, fishing operation or other water-dependent business succumbs to the crushing tax burden. It's simply bad math that doesn't add up for boaters, water-dependent businesses, or anyone interested in preserving the state's maritime heritage and dwindling waterfront access," she added.

Amendment 6 simply states the following marine venues and working waterfronts will be taxed at the property's current use:

· Marinas and docks open to the public for access and recreational uses
· Public vessel launches into navigable waterways
· Commercial fishing facilities
· Water-dependent marine manufacturing facilities
· Marine vessel construction and repair facilities

"Florida cannot afford to lose any more access, and its marine industry, which contributes $18 billion to the state's economy and provides 220,000 jobs. Unlike other businesses, these operations cannot relocate. It's ironic that a state known for its world-class recreational boating could have such a self-defeating measure in its tax code," added Podlich.

The amendment was introduced by the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission and is supported by a large coalition of organizations including the Marine Industries Association of South Florida, Marine Industries Association of Florida, and Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatU.S.).

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