Fla. Homeowners Air Grievances over Taxes, Insurance

April 26, 2007

Jeanette Waddle is frustrated with rising property taxes and unaffordable insurance rates, and she let Fla.’s Gov. Charlie Crist hear about it Tuesday night during a town hall forum.

The mother of three is married to a firefighter, the sole provider for their family, and struggles every month to pay the bills. Taxes and insurance fees, she said, “are making it more and more difficult to live here in Palm Beach County.”

Waddle said property tax on their home has gone from $2,602 in 2005 to more than $4,500 last year. Insurance rates have risen $2,000.

“Every time we get our tax returns, they go right back into paying taxes,” Waddle told the governor.

“This is Democracy at work here, right here tonight,” Crist replied, adding that a fix was on the way soon.

Legislators in Tallahassee are debating several ways to lower property taxes and insurance rates, and Crist promised some relief by July.

Several hundred frustrated residents packed an auditorium at Palm Beach Community College on Tuesday night to air their grievances.

Crist listened and often told the crowd, “You are the boss. This is Democracy.”

“You need relief and you need it now,” he said to applause.

State Sen. Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, also promised relief soon.

“You have written me thousands of letters. You are doing your very best to make ends meet. You are doing your very best to take of your family needs. And your letters have made it clear,” Atwater said. “It is time for those of us who are given the great fortune of representing you to go on a diet, cut the spending, invest wisely and let us keep more of our money.”

Relief couldn’t come soon enough for Vincent and Lorie DiColo.

The couple retired and moved to Florida about a year ago from Rhode Island. They bought a condo in North Palm Beach, then moved into a house in Stuart.

“The condo’s been on the market for a year and the main reason people don’t want to buy it is because of property taxes and insurance,” Lorie DiColo said.

“We’ve got a lot of money invested in Florida,” her husband added. “People will pay a price for property but the taxes are a huge recurring cost. It’s like another mortgage.”

Vincent DiColo said they pay more than $40,000 a year in property taxes and insurance on the home they bought for $1.4 million in Stuart.

“We think it’s ridiculous the amount of property taxes collected down here,” he said.

Many expressed the same frustrations, that they can’t afford to move or stay, that insurance companies are dropping them, and the problems are only getting worse.

Some said they may just cut their losses and move out of state.

Crist held up a sign from one frustrated resident calling for tax relief now.

“We want you to stay,” he said. “Help is on the way.”

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.