Keeping Florida

The boating and fishing industry in Florida scored a big win in the Nov. 4 elections. By a margin of 70.5 percent, Floridians voted in favor of Amendment 6, effectively putting into motion action that could lower taxation rates on waterfront entities such as marinas, boatyards, public boat ramps and boat dealerships. This marks the first step that could help ensure the survival of these businesses in a state that has seen waterfront property grow increasingly expensive - and scarce - in recent years. The new amendment calls for taxation appraisal based on a facility's "current use" instead of "highest and best" rates - or, in other words, a small marina would not be taxed as having the same revenue potential as a luxury condominium. This, of course, is good news for boaters and fishermen, because it would help protect future access to Florida's waterways. But it's not a done deal yet. Margaret Podlich, vice president of government affairs at BoatU.S., one of several marine-industry organizations that supported the amendment, says that it now must be passed in the spring session of the Florida legislature. "I don't count my chickens early, but I think this clearly shows that the people of Florida are concerned about taxing marinas and working boatyards out of existence," she said, noting that counties currently set their own tax rates and have the ability to enforce "highest and best" rates at will. "It's a fabulous first step and serves as the overall umbrella for this new topic. Now, the real specifics of how this gets implemented will happen through legislation this coming spring." -- Mike Mazur, FFSW Editor