Florida Amendment 1 – Voter’s Guide

Well… the post title might be a little on the ambitious side. I certainly can’t claim to cover every aspect of this proposed amendment in this setting. However, there are a couple of key points worth considering.

Lots of Hype

First of all, there has been a lot of fluff on both sides of this issue. Here are some bottom line facts for you:

  • Amendment One is a tax cut.
  • The taxable basis for your home’s value — if you already have (or qualify for and ultimately receive) the homestead exemption — will be reduced by $50,000 rather than by the current amount of $25,000 if the amendment passes. This means that no matter what the millage rate in your area, your property taxes will be based upon a lower number than today.
  • Amendment 1 is opposed by Florida’s unions: the teachers, the firemen, and the AFL-CIO. These are the people whose jobs are dependent upon your taxes. They have been threatened with job cuts and salary reductions if it passes, so it’s no wonder that they’re campaigning against it. See my previous post on Amendment 1 to learn what the Sarasota School Board did to threaten its workers.
  • Amendment 1 is a tax cut.
  • Some people argue that Amendment One represents insufficient tax reform, and therefore it shouldn’t be passed. This is a little like going to the emergency room with a broken bone showing through your skin and having a doctor tell you, “We can stop the bleeding, but your bone will still be broken.” Naturally, you stop the bleeding first (in case you’re medically challenged, it is possible to bleed to death). Then, when the bleeding has stopped, you figure out how best to help the bone heal.
  • Did I mention that it’s a tax cut?
  • Florida’s housing market has been having a hard time lately… or hadn’t you noticed? One massive deterrent to purchasing a second (or different) home as a Floridian is the “hit” you’ll take on property taxes due to the change in the assessed value of the property you purchase. Amendment One allows you to take your “Save Our Homes” property tax limitations with you to your next house. This makes the property tax situation a little less painful. It can make a substantial difference on a given transaction. More people buying houses means a better housing market. A better housing market means all those Realtors (R), mortgage brokers, title agents, property insurance salespeople, builders, remodelers, home improvement stores, et cetera all do better. They, in turn, spend money with your small business, big business, tourist attraction, theme park, and — yes — they pay more in taxes.
  • Amendment 1 could actually result in more revenue to local governments and even the State government, but it will happen naturally because people choose to spend money rather than having it squeezed out of them through exorbitant property taxes.
  • But… all of that being said, Amendment One is still a tax cut.

The Bottom Line on Amendment One

I’m not a big fan of President Bush’s performance in office — not at all. That being said, I’m going to steal from a page in his final (can anyone say, “Thank God!”?) State of the Union Address. If you want to pay more in taxes and those schools, fire departments and local governments to have more money, they accept checks and money orders. (Some of them probably take Visa, too.) Go ahead. Send it to them.

But do it because you want to do it. Don’t do it because a revenuer assessed it from you.

Oh… One More Really Important Detail

The January 29th Presidential Primary is your only chance to vote on Amendment One. Get out there and vote, will you?

Amendment One: Sarasota Schools Use Scare Tactics on Teachers and Staff, Distribute Propaganda

Parents of Sarasota County students can expect to get this little gem (no doubt paid for by our already poorly spent tax dollars) today when their kids come home from school (assuming that it survives the trip home).

According to a source from inside the school system, this 2-sided 4-color (read: expensive to print) flier was distributed today to teachers and staff of the schools along with a memo threatening salary reductions and staff cuts next year if Florida’s Amendment One passes during Tuesday’s Presidential Primaries. The School Board is pressuring its staff to vote “no” and shifting blame to voters and the State legislature for its financial woes.

The flier itself masquerades as a balanced look at the issue, but ultimately threatens the local taxpayers (parents) with additional tax increases in the future which it says will be needed to “maintain revenues.”

Well, guess what? We, the voters and property owners in this County have something to say about your revenues. And ultimately we aren’t interested in whether you “maintain” your revenues — we want you to be accountable for the lack of performance we see time and time again. More money will not solve the fundamental problems entrenched in the bureaucracy.

One good thing: the flier encourages people to get out and vote. Let’s do it Tuesday, January 29th!

Congratulations to Sarasota-based Copytalk

Copytalk, LLC, the developers of a dictation service for mobile professionals, received the 2007 Industry of the Year Award from the Economic Development Council of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce. The company is another shining example of the high level of innovation that exists within the Sarasota area.

I’ve actually had the opportunity to work with the company’s dictation service after recommending it to several clients in the past. It’s a great service for sales professionals, financial consultants, or anyone else who conducts meetings — whether face-to-face, by phone, or virtually — and needs to maintain notes or remember to take action based upon the results of those meetings.

How Copytalk Works

It’s really quite simple: you walk out of a meeting, and you dial a number. You talk. It listens. A short time later, an e-mail arrives in your inbox — or the inbox of the person(s) you specify — and your notes are typed and ready to be pasted into your CRM, personal information manager, customer/prospect database, or even printed and filed (does anyone still do that?). I’m not sure about what all the technology is behind the curtain, but I think Copytalk has some elves that listen to your message and do all the typing.

If you’ve never invested in dictation services before, the monthly fee can seem a little high. However, when you consider the lost opportunity cost of missing an important detail in a meeting — you know… the sort of detail that you remember 5 minutes after the meeting, but can’t begin to conjure up just one hour (or one meeting) later — it can easily pay for itself the first day of the month. My clients who have used the service have experienced significant improvements in productivity, effectiveness, and the overall quality of the service they in turn provide to their own customers and prospects.

The company was founded in 2000 and, by all appearances, has been experiencing steady growth ever since.

“The selection of a business to be honored as Industry of the Year is a difficult process,” said Nancy Engel, Executive Director of the EDC. “Our judges were looking for a balance of sustained company growth, adding new professional jobs for our workforce, contributions to the community, and likelihood for continued growth and expansion. Copytalk stood out as far exceeding our expectations in each of those areas. We are very fortunate to have Copytalk in our community and look forward to their continued success.”

Congratulations, Copytalk, on this well-deserved recognition!

Sarasota Sales Trainer Michael Pink Speaking for Get Motivated Seminar With Peter Lowe

In Sarasota, we’re a bit spoiled.  We’re accustomed to sharing our local talent with the entire world.  So we sometimes miss the significance of it when one of our own is shoved into the spotlight.  Here’s a case where that would be a mistake.

Peter Lowe is the famous host of Business Seminars the world over.  He’s known for putting speakers like Zig Ziglar, Margaret Thatcher, President Ronald Reagan, Dan Kennedy, President Gerald Ford, Benjamin Netanyahu, and others in front of large crowds to fire them up, inspire them, inform them, and train them.  Peter’s latest iteration of these seminars are known as “Get Motivated Seminars.”

Michael Pink, America’s #1 Authority on Principle-Based Selling, lives and works right here in Sarasota.  It seems that Peter Lowe has taken notice of the effectiveness of Michael’s training materials and has been inviting Michael to speak in these seminars.  One such occasion is on July 10th in Tacoma, Washington.

Many local companies have benefited from Michael Pink through his Selling Among Wolves training events, through corporate training, as well as through the audio and video products Michael has produced.  But more than that, many companies the world over have benefited.  It would do us well to take notice of local talent on this scale.

Kudos to Michael… and to Peter Lowe for taking notice!

New Buffalo Wings Restaurant in Sarasota – Wing Junction on Beneva Road

**Update (January, 2009): Wing Junction has, unfortunately, closed. A victim of the 2008 high food prices? Perhaps we’ll never know. In any case, we wish the former owner the very best. He’s a heckuva nice guy.

In the meantime, check out our more recent post on buffalo wings in Sarasota.

For all of you Wings addicts in Sarasota, you’ve got to check out the newest gig in town…

Wing Junction is in the Publix shopping center at 935 N. Beneva Road — home of the U.S. Postal Service and former home of the much-missed Beef O’Brady’s. (I guess the center is called “Sarasota Commons,” but who notices these things?)

The store has only been open for a few weeks, but I’ve already had the opportunity to sample the goods twice now. Both of my visits have been during lunch – mainly because the location is near my new office and I seem to be running errands in the vicinity.

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New Sarasota Retail Development Officially On Its Way

Perry Corneau recently noted that real estate giant Benderson Development has received approval for its University Town Center project in a unanimous vote of the Sarasota County Commissioners. This massive project brings nearly 2 million square feet of additional retail to the area, along with some exciting names like Nordstrom’s and Muvico.

The project is slated for completion in 2009 and will be going up at the University Parkway and I-75 interchange, which is already loaded with retail and commercial space. Just a few months ago a SuperTarget opened, which has by all accounts been a gigantic success.

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