CITY OF TEMPLE TERRACE, FLORIDA Thursday, January 24, 2008
NEIGHBORHOOD MEETING 7:00 p.m.
REPORT OF MEETING Lightfoot Center
Having been duly advertised as required by law, the Mayor and City Council of the City of
Temple Terrace, Florida, met in a Quarterly Neighborhood Meeting, beginning at 7:10 p.m. on
Thursday, January 24, 2008, to hear and discuss the concerns of the citizens.
PRESENT WERE: Mayor Joe Affronti, Council Members Frank M. Chillura (who arrived at
7:25 p.m.), Alison M. Fernandez, Ron Govin, Ken Halloway, and Mark A. Knapp, City Manager
Kim Leinbach, and Deputy City Clerk Linda Brewer.
ALSO PRESENT WERE: Public Information Officer Mike Dunn, City Engineer Joe Motta,
Code Compliance Director Joe Gross, Human Resources Director Woody Hubbard, Acting
Library Director Armand Ternak, Finance Director Diane Reichard, Assistant Director of
Community Services – Planning Ann Sheller, Building Official Charles Stephenson, Police
Lieutenant Bernie Seeley, Assistant Fire Chief Ian Kemp, Parks & Recreation Assistant Director
Karl Langefeld, Legislative Secretary Irma Celleri, Parks Planner Dana Carver, John Robinson,
Eleanor Robinson, Elsie Drew, Roy Drew, Matilde Barreto, Debbie Carson, Keith Carson, Ed
Huetten, June Amos, Lynne Volpe, Janet Thomas, Steve Thomas, Saleh Mubarak, Fawzi
Elmond, Husann Amin, Anwar Syed, Hassan Sultan, Inshirah Abdeljaled, Laura Biasci, Ken
Cochran, Ed Homan, Eddie Adams, Jr., Robert Morton, Joan Franklin, Sandy Alpaugh, Susan
Hall, Gloria Kares, Dawn Headland, Anne & Greg Vawter, Roger Fingar, and several other
Mayor Affronti expressed appreciation to everyone for coming tonight. Before turning the
meeting over to the City Manager, Mayor Affronti introduced all of the Council Members,
stating that Council Member Chillura is running a little late.
City Manager Kim Leinbach introduced the staff members present.
Mayor Affronti announced the format of tonight's meeting: he will be giving an overview of
Amendment 1, Council Member Govin will give an update on the Downtown Redevelopment,
and then it will be open for questions and answers. He mentioned they were fortunate to have
State Representative Ed Homan in attendance, who would be happy to answer any questions
regarding the referendum.
Mayor Affronti explained his intention is to give everyone the pros and cons regarding the
upcoming property tax Constitutional Amendment, which is going before the voters on January
29th. Because of the complexity of this Amendment, Mayor Affronti said he hoped to give as
much information to help everyone to make it clearer and help them to decide how to vote.
Currently, Mayor Affronti said that people living in their own homes are entitled to a $25,000
Homestead exemption. With Amendment 1, he said each homeowner could receive an
additional $25,000 Homestead exemption. He explained that any home that has an assessed
value between $50,000 and $75,000 and above, will qualify for up to an additional $25,000
Homestead exemption; homes less than $50,000 are not eligible for the additional exemption.
Report of Neighborhood Meeting January 24, 2008 Page Two.
Mayor Affronti continued that homes with an assessed value greater than $75,000 would receive
the full $25,000 additional exemption. For example, Mayor Affronti said a home valued at
$60,000 would receive an additional $10,000 exemption – not an additional $25,000.
Mayor Affronti pointed out this exemption does not apply to the school portion of the tax bill. In
Temple Terrace, he said the school portion of the tax bill represents about 38%. With a full
$25,000 exemption, Mayor Affronti said a homeowner could save up to an estimated $240 a year
Using another example, Mayor Affronti said if your home was assessed at $150,000, you are
eligible for the $25,000 initial Homestead exemption and would pay taxes on the remaining
$125,000. Under Amendment 1, he said the homeowner would be eligible to receive an
additional $25,000 on the assessed value excluding the school tax portion. He said you will still
pay the entire 38% of the school tax portion of the tax bill, and would have an actual savings of
62% of that $25,000 additional exemption or about $15,500.
Mayor Affronti said the next portion of the Amendment addresses the tangible personal property
tax. He said there is a $25,000 tangible personal property tax exemption including, but not
limited to, businesses, non-homestead and second homes, vacation homes, and mobile homes.
Taxpayers in this category, he said, would not be required to pay that portion of the school tax;
they would be totally exempt. He said it is possible that a mobile homeowner will no longer pay
any property taxes. Mayor Affronti said there is a cap; on a non-homesteaded property, which
could include a second home, vacation home, etc., the property tax value would be capped at
10%, which is similar to the 3% Save Our Homes tax.
Mayor Affronti said there is portability relative to the Save Our Homes benefit. He said this
allows the homeowners to keep up to $500,000 in tax benefits accrued from Save Our Homes.
This doesn’t affect the taxes paid to schools, he said, in other words they would still have to pay
the school portion of it. He said this is calculated by taking the difference between the market
value and the assessed value.
Mayor Affronti said if a homeowner downsizes, they can take the same percentage of Save Our
Homes as they currently enjoy, for example, if your current home market value is $150,000 and
your assessed value is $75,000, you're paying on 50% of your market value $75,000 to $150,000.
When you buy a new home, and if the market value is $100,000, your new assessed value would
be $50,000, which is 50% of the market value of the new home you're buying; the percentage
stays the same. He explained you could only take the same percentage for the assessed value as
you had on your first home. He continued that if a homeowner upgrades to a new home, they
can take the full amount up to $500,000; for example, if the market value of your home now is
$150,000 and your assessed value is $75,000, you're currently paying taxes on $75,000. If you
buy a new home for $250,000, he said, you can take that Save Our Homes difference with you,
so now you would be paying taxes on the assessed value of $175,000 instead of the full
$250,000. He said the Finance Director will further explain portability. One of our main
problems in the State, Mayor Affronti said, is the tremendous variation in taxes homeowners pay
for homes with the same market value; because of Save Our Homes on one side, one person can
be paying much less than someone right next to them with the same-priced home.
Report of Neighborhood Meeting January 24, 2008 Page Three.
Finance Director Diane Reichard said to put this in perspective, she will be showing three
different scenarios (referring to an illustration displayed on an easel). She said currently, if you
have Save Our Homes and have a $350,000 home that is assessed at $200,000 – your taxes are
$3,940 a year (taxes in Temple Terrace). If a home buyer comes in and buys that same $350,000
home (moving from someplace else) and enjoying the $250,000 savings (Homestead), she said
that gets applied to the $350,000 and would only have to pay taxes on $100,000 (the portability
amount); would be paying $1,970 in taxes. For a new home buyer or moved from out-of-State
and bought the same $350,000 home, taxes would be on that $350,000 or $6,895, she said.
Mayor Affronti mentioned he had a handout available that lists issues for supporting Amendment
1 and issues of concern, which presents both scenarios for consideration. He then reviewed some
of the points as follows:
Issues for Support
1. People can downsize and take advantage of Save Our Homes.
2. If this encourages people to relocate, it could help revitalize our economy.
3. Will keep government spending in check.
4. The potential $240 savings for some; for some, it is better than nothing.
5. It will send a message to the Legislature that we definitely want tax reform.
6. Most mobile homeowners will no longer have to pay tangible personal property taxes
on porches, sunrooms, storage rooms, carports, and other additions on leased lots. He
added that people will be able to take advantage of second homes.
7. Tax cuts could stimulate the economy.
Issues of Concern
1. It was put together pretty quickly and there are likely unintended consequences.
2. Fiscal impact is unknown. The estimates of how much this proposal would save
homeowners have already changed from $12 billion to $9 billion over five years.
No one knows who will take advantage of portability and what sort of savings they
would "port" with them; therefore, costs can't be estimated.
3. Schools could lose $1.5 billion over the next five years.
4. Local governments will have to cut back more and possibly cut services and
programs in addition to reduced revenue from the changing real estate market. The
real estate values have gone down tremendously, which automatically affect the ad
valorem. When Temple Terrace had the first roll-backs, instead of 4.91 mills to 4.5,
the City had to cut $500,000 from the initial budget. If this amendment passes, the
City could possibly have to cut $600,000 or more that would represent about a 17%
reduction in the tax revenue from 2006. The portability issue is still unknown.
5. No guaranteed benefit to renters and businesses who need the relief the most.
6. Portability makes an unfair tax structure worse and punishes first-time home buyers.
Report of Neighborhood Meeting January 24, 2008 Page Four.
7. State Legislature has direct control over the portion of our tax bill that goes to
schools – almost half of the average tax bill. In 2007, they mandated school boards
to increase their property taxes by 7%; in 2006, they mandated local boards to
increase by 17%. They could cut property taxes by addressing funding at the state
level and lowering local school taxes.
8. There is no guarantee tax rates won't go up to offset the lost income.
9. Those who do not have a homestead might see their taxes go up as tax rates adjust to
minimize the loss of funds to local government.
10. We have an opportunity for real reform through the Taxation and Budget Review
Commission and should let them present their proposals.
Mayor Affronti reiterated the handouts are available for anyone who may want one. He said the
wording of the referendum is very complicated and they spent three days trying to decipher it to
make sure that what was being presented tonight was accurate. He expressed concern for voters
who do not take the time to study this amendment prior to going to the voting booth,
commenting that was why they were taking the time this evening to try to help people understand
the complexities of this amendment.
While waiting for the microphone to be handed to a citizen, the City Manager recognized Mike
Dunn, the City’s Public Information Officer.
A concerned citizen said Mayor Affronti indicated that the State can raise the amount they pay
on taxes for schools, which would result in the rate staying the same and not decreasing. He
asked whether the City plans to raise the local millage. Mayor Affronti said they have absolutely
no plans to raise the local millage; however, to be realistic, while there have already been
cutbacks in non-essential services, such as Christmas decorations, if it ever got to the point
where they know they would have to cut vital services, such as Police and Fire, and those kinds
of things, they would very earnestly consider what they would have to do to maintain the types
of services the citizens have been used to and deserve. Therefore, he said he can't say that
"never, never, never" would the City ever consider raising the local millage; it would depend on
the impact on the City.
State Representative Ed Homan mentioned he literally just returned from Tallahassee and
explained that this is not his bill – this was the Senate bill. He gave a brief history as to how this
bill came about. He explained there were two special sessions trying to come up with some tax
solutions to the cries of the public that they are paying too many taxes. The people with Save
Our Homes exemptions aren't crying too much, he said, because they have been protected from
the 1992 Constitutional Amendment to limit the tax increase to 3% per year. He said between
1992 and 2001, the price of homes didn't increase much more than 3% a year – the people did
not get much protection. Between 2001 and 2006, he said the sales price of homes about
doubled. Since our taxes are based on the appraised value of the home, he said the property tax
throughout the State went from about $14 billion a year, to over $30 billion a year; in five years
it doubled. That was what everyone was screaming about, he said. When tax bills are talked
about in Tallahassee, he said it is how they can have everybody have the feeling that their taxes
are going down; his desire was to do away with all property taxes.
Report of Neighborhood Meeting January 24, 2008 Page Five.
As an alternative, State Representative Homan presented his belief in having a consumption tax;
if a person makes more and spends more, they pay more taxes. He said some say this is an
aggressive tax because if they do that, it makes taxes more a portion of what they have to spend.
He said his answer to that is to exempt medicine, housing, and food; anything after that is not a
necessity, it is a luxury, and so if people spend more, they pay more. He said if they want to
save money, that money would not be not taxed, which is something they try to promote - saving
and having less credit card debt.
State Representative Homan said the problem with this alternative is that the poorer counties in
the State, like Gadsden County, an agricultural county that does not have a lot of retail or sales,
still have schools and roads to maintain, and they wonder how they are going to collect enough
sales tax to support their local government. He said the State said they would collect all the
sales tax and distribute it, but then there is a big fight as to how much each county gets. He said
this happened a few years ago when they tried to re-do the formula for all the schools; in
Hillsborough County they felt they were always getting short-changed, but they managed to get
more money; however Miami/Dade County lost and they were screaming.
State Representative Homan said the House came up with a pretty good plan, which was going to
be on the ballot that was going to do away with Save Our Homes exemptions, except those who
already had it would be grandfathered in. He said he voted for that bill because he thought they
wouldn’t have this disparity over time – after one more generation, they would get rid of the
inequity that was created by Save Our Homes. He said a judge said it wasn't fair; they couldn't
put it on the ballot because the wording was not clear. While they thought they could change the
wording, the Senate was not happy with that plan and came up with their own plan. They
"shanghaied" the House in that the plan they are voting on was developed in the Senate, and as
soon as they passed it, the Senate went home on the last day of the Special session. For the
House, he said, it was “take it, or leave it”; they couldn't amend it and send it back. Their job, he
said, was to take it and put it on the ballot; the House felt that if they didn’t pass this, the public
would say they need a whole new set of Legislators because they can’t do anything. He said this
wasn’t a bill that any of them liked, but this is what they got.
State Representative Homan explained the reason he is voting “yes” to Amendment 1 is because
of portability. He said their children are all grown and he would like to have a newer, smaller
house, but he doesn’t want to triple his taxes, which is what would happen if he were to make a
lateral move. He continued that if the Amendment passes, he believes the market to sell his
house will increase because there may be people living in a smaller home that will now be able
to take their portability (Save Our Homes feature) to buy his house. He stressed the portability is
the big thing for him – not the estimated $240 savings in taxes, which he believes is closer to
$300 in Hillsborough County. The Senate wanted to be sure this was in there because the polling
they did, he said, was they had enough homeowners who have been living in Florida long
enough, that if the Save Our Homes portability provision wasn't in there, it would not pass.
State Representative Homan said one political party says this will kill education. Putting it in
perspective, he said $1.5 billion over five years taken away from education for the whole state,
where the budget totals about $66 billion a year, is not a lot of money.
Report of Neighborhood Meeting January 24, 2008 Page Six.
Noting he works for the University, State Representative Homan said it is important to him that
they don’t do anything bad for education; they are the least hurt by this. For the counties and
cities that are going to be “hurt”, he said, when they move and change households, they are not
taking tax money away from local governments; they are just not increasing it. He said he will
be paying the same taxes on the new home as he is now. What happened before, he said, when
someone moved, the tax rate went up, because they were paying more for the new assessed
property. He said they are limiting the spending by local governments by not allowing them to
increase at the rate they had been doing, which he asserted has doubled in the last five years.
State Representative Homan continued, stating there are always unmet needs for government -
more sidewalks, more pension plans, etc. All this plan does, he said, is to move the income
down to the level of 2005. He said in 2005 they were already complaining about lack of
services. Remarking on local government and Police and Fire statements made suggesting that
libraries will have to close or they won’t have anyone to investigate robberies, etc., he said he
doesn’t believe this is going to happen.
State Representative Homan concluded his remarks stating that while they don’t know whether
the Amendment will pass, they need to do something to stimulate the economy and suggested
this might be one little piece that would help.
Council Member Knapp asked what the State is doing about homeowners insurance; where is the
State Representative Homan briefly explained what had happened with homeowners insurance.
He said everyone in this room unknowingly became part of a big insurance company called
Citizens because they are taxpayers in this State. He said he really doesn't blame the
homeowners insurance. Looking at a map of where hurricanes go in the world, Florida is
“black” for hurricanes for the past 100 years; it is hurricane alley. He explained the State got
into the business with Citizens Insurance, which originally was only going to insure those few
people who couldn't buy insurance elsewhere. The insurance company, he said, was an offshoot
of the 1992 Hurricane Andrew disaster. He continued that after the eight hurricanes in 2004 and
2005, the insurance companies jacked up the rates and Citizens took out a whole lot of policies.
In trying to get insurance back into the State, he said Citizens said they would be the re-insurer
for all the other insurance companies. He explained the way insurance works is the insurance
company sells you the policy, and then they re-insure the risk with Lords of London or some
other large companies around the world; Citizens said they would take over the re-insurance
policy for the State of Florida. He explained these companies buy the rates from Citizens, who
said they would sell them to the insurance companies at competitive rates, but expected the
insurance companies to lower their rates to the homeowners, but the insurance companies didn’t
do that. Now, he said, they are up before the Senate to explain, under oath, why they didn’t.
Mayor Affronti called on the City Manager to briefly state how this referendum could affect
Report of Neighborhood Meeting January 24, 2008 Page Seven.
The City Manager said with due respect to State Representative Homan, he wanted to give an
application to Temple Terrace, which is the good and the bad of the Constitutional Amendment.
Representative Homan interrupted, clarifying that the statements he made were for the whole
State; it affects each individual community differently. He continued that people are going to
vote on this as to how this is going to affect them; the Legislators were thinking about how they
could give a bill for the whole State, as a whole, looking at the revenue stream, the taxations and
what have you, for the whole State. He said when the City Manager tells them that it will kill the
City, it is not because he (State Representative Homan) lied to everyone; he just gave the
information for the whole State and how it’s going to work.
The City Manager said he wanted to highlight the City’s Elected Officials, who are very
conservative and fiscally responsible. Over the past seven years, he said, the City’s property tax
increase has averaged less than 4%, again, being very fiscally prudent and watching tax dollars
very carefully. He said Temple Terrace has very conscientious Elected Officials, who are very
conservative with the City’s money. He said on a local level, the City pays twice as much for
gas as anyone does at home or any other business; the City’s health insurance is facing another
40% increase after just having faced a 30% increase this year, and that will make it tough. He
said they will make it do. Whatever the electorate dictates, the City will do, he said, but it will
not be without some pain; everyone needs to know this. The City Manager said his wish would
have been for the people to tell the Elected Officials how they feel about the millage levy;
perhaps it should be lower. He assured everyone that the Elected Officials do listen, even when
they are approached by citizens in places like Publix.
Mayor Affronti said it might be worthwhile to mention the effect the stock market has on the
pension fund and how it could affect the City.
The City Manager explained the City is responsible and has to guarantee a minimum return, a
minimum percentage, for the City’s Police and Firefighters Pension Funds by State Statutes.
When times go well, he said that's great; but when the investments are down, the City is
obligated, if there is any deficit, to make that up. Mayor Affronti interjected that it is not a small
number and it is mandated by the State, adding this is an example of things the City has to
A concerned citizen wanted to know if a new homeowner wanted to save money to buy a new
house, it seemed to him the differentiation he sees on the chart is going to make the inequity
even worse for the homeowner than it was before. If this Amendment does not pass, he said it
seems they are sending the message back to the Legislature that we need a better solution to this,
so perhaps this could be resurrected to what was mentioned in the first place. He said he is
concerned they will be setting up hurdles so huge that the young people are not going to be able
to afford to own their own homes. He said he realizes taxes are not the whole story, but he
doesn't want to set up any more hurdles than they need to.
State Representative Homan responded that the first plan they had was the “Super Exemption.”
He explained that when the homestead exemption was first passed in the 1970's, the $25,000 was
about half of the total cost of an average house; now an average home is $188,000 or $230,000.
Report of Neighborhood Meeting January 24, 2008 Page Eight.
State Representative Homan continued that the Super Exemption was going to try to put that
back up to about $100,000 exemption. He said it didn’t pass, but he thought it would really help
the new home buyer. He said the Legislators fear if this doesn’t pass, they are afraid the message
would be that the public want the services, so they need to keep these taxes, whereas most of the
public says the cities need to live on a budget like they do and the fact that their income keeps
going up every year, they need to control that.
A concerned citizen suggested that perhaps he would need to vote out his local government
rather than let the State government deal with it for him.
State Representative Homan responded that the problem is the way property tax is set up, they
don’t control that; it's based on the appraised value of your home. The only way they could do
that, he said, is to lower the millage rate; cut the millage rate in half. Hypothetically he
questioned why his taxes go up when local government says they have lowered the millage rate,
stating it is because the assessed value of the house is going up.
In response to State Representative Homan, the concerned citizen suggested that was because the
costs to the local government are going up as well.
Council Member Govin commented that many people have said this Amendment 1 is a flawed
Amendment – it's not perfect. But yet, he indicated it is on the agenda to make it an Amendment
to the Constitution of the State of Florida. He stated Amendments to the Constitution are very,
very difficult to change.
Council Member Govin said the Save Our Homes Amendment that passed many years ago was a
great thought; the concept at the time was a very similar situation where people needed some tax
remedies. He said the Legislature came up with this solution, which has put us in a real hole
because: 1) they wouldn't have to be talking about raising millage, they would be talking about
lowering millage if every year they did not limit the assessed value of homes as they do under
Save our Homes; 2) they have also created a tremendous inequity between homeowners with
homeowners living side by side paying enormous differences (in taxes); and 3) he is concerned
for his 24 year-old grandson, who is going to pay the full brunt of what this Amendment is
doing. Therefore, he said he calls this a flawed Amendment – not perfect. He said it has so
many flaws that it seems they would be better to fight for the right Bill, and put the right Bill on
the table that creates some equity between homeowners.
Council Member Govin expressed concern that they don’t know what the effect will be, and the
State of Florida is the first one to tell you that the effect of this Bill is not known. He said there
is no way to determine it because of the portability that has been built into it and the movement
of homeowners; it could devastate the City’s tax base. On top of that, he said he believes there
was an over-reaction in the State of Florida that did create the situation where most of the
Legislature was put in jeopardy because they weren't doing anything; consequently, they came
up with this Bill.
Report of Neighborhood Meeting January 24, 2008 Page Nine.
Council Member Govin continued that what really worries him is that on top of the unknown
cost of Amendment 1, they are now getting market adjustments to the assessed values.
Everyone’s assessed value of their home is going back down – won't go back to 2000 or 1995,
but it is going down. That market adjustment, he said, is going to come out of the municipalities
and the counties; it will affect education by more than $1 billion. Council Member Govin said he
believes they should have waited to see the effects of the market adjustment. In his opinion, he
said the time would have been better spent on insurance that impacts everyone in an equal
fashion; no matter what the price of the house is, everyone is paying an exorbitant price for
Mayor Affronti commented he believes the biggest problem they have is how to encourage
people to buy new homes. He doesn't believe this Amendment is addressing that problem; in
fact, it is discouraging people from buying new homes because they have no tax benefit at all,
and in his opinion, it is counterproductive. Mayor Affronti said he read that in 2006 Florida
grew by 1.8 million, and in 2007 it grew by 1.1 million, which was a huge drop in people
moving to Florida. In some cases, he said, this is good, giving a chance to stabilize and work on
infrastructure. He believes the biggest problem that needs to be addressed is what it will take to
get people to buy new homes; a lot of it will be taken care of by market adjustment, as Council
Member Govin mentioned. In speaking with a Realtor the other day, he said he was told that
with prices coming down and interest rates dropping the way they are, there is more activity. He
said he believes they need to concentrate on selling new homes rather than portability, such as
the condominiums at Marbella and others that are sitting with inventory.
Gloria Kares asked Mayor Affronti to clarify what he meant by “new” homes, to which Mayor
Affronti explained he meant people purchasing homes, not literally “new” homes. Ms. Kares
commented she holds Open Houses every Sunday and many people come and inquire but have
no incentive to buy because there is nothing clear; they don't know where this Amendment is
going. Stating the prospective buyers are as if they are frozen in place, she said this is
unprecedented in the 30 years she has been in real estate.
Council Member Knapp said that while there are people here with more political experience than
he has, but in his short term he has never seen a tax cut fail in referendum, no matter how badly
it is written or its impact. If this was Las Vegas, he said he would take the odds that this
referendum will pass. Council Member Knapp said he has participated in nine budget sessions
for the City of Temple Terrace and can say that the City is unique in the sense that the ad
valorem base has not raised fast enough. The reason being, he said, is that the turnover of homes
in Temple Terrace is much less than the average; also, there are long-term residents who have
been here 20, 30, or 40 years. The portability portion of the legislation, he said, will help the
City of Temple Terrace because there are residents who are retirees and are actually “trapped” in
their homes because of the tax situation; their homes are paid for, and they may want to move,
but can’t afford to because their taxes will be greater and they have fixed income.
Council Member Knapp recalled 13 years ago when he was on the Council, they were very
concerned because their revenue was by the tangible tax, which was equal to or greater than our
ad valorem revenue, and the tangible tax was on a five-year depreciation scale.
Report of Neighborhood Meeting January 24, 2008 Page Ten.
Council Member Knapp continued, explaining that the tangible tax revenues were depreciating at
20% per year; the ad valorem tax wasn't coming close to keeping up. Therefore, he said for an
eight-year period of time, Temple Terrace actually had an eroding tax base; it didn't go up. He
said he was elected to represent the citizens of Temple Terrace, not the State as a whole.
Council Member Knapp said if they look at this Amendment as to how it affects the City of
Temple Terrace and not globally, the ad valorem base is the biggest thing Council concerns itself
with every year. He said if they take into consideration the City employees, and don't take into
consideration anything else, and adding no staff, by way of contract, unions, what have you, at an
average 4% per year, the cost in salary raised is $600,000 a year to operate the City in the exact
way as the prior year without adding any services. If they don't increase $600,000, he said,
something has to give. The only way the City of Temple Terrace has gained ad valorem
revenues, where they have gotten to the point where they have actually gotten over the “hump”
of the eroding tangible taxes, and where those tangible taxes comes from, is basically Telecom
Park. He said to keep in mind that if a company, such as Coca-Cola, decides to leave Temple
Terrace and re-locate in Texas and decides to take $3 million worth of computers with them,
there goes the City’s tangible tax. This is the battle they are fighting, he said.
Council Member Knapp said his point is the City doesn't have excess here in Temple Terrace,
they don’t have new construction, and the City doesn’t benefit from a lot of new homes being
built, because Tampa Palms just got built next door to the City. He said the City is an older
neighborhood and is built out; being built out with low turnover in homes, the City of Temple
Terrace is unique. Council Member Knapp expressed his belief in the cap with Save Our Homes
because it protects folks who have paid their homes off – they aren’t taxed out of something for
which they’ve worked their whole life.
Being unique, Council Member Knapp said that they have to deal with the situations they have in
a unique fashion. It is not easy, he said, but they can do it. Stating he could find $600,000 to
take out of the budget, but he questioned whether everyone would be happy about it. He said
everyone in the City of Temple Terrace wants, demands, and should have a high level of service.
It is not as easy as it looks, he said, and it is not as cut-and-dried; their budget for ad valorem
overall is small, and this is where all the services come from. He added the City operates its own
Police Department and Fire Department, stating those are both very expensive.
Council Member Knapp reiterated that simply keeping up with salaries alone is $600,000 a year
of additional revenue required. He said he disagrees with Council Member Govin on the point
that the market adjustment will take care of itself. Council Member Knapp said the difference of
the appraised value versus the taxable value will go down, but will never go below the tax value.
He reiterated that Temple Terrace doesn’t have the turnover or new construction. He said the
commercial districts have borne the entire brunt of every year’s increased funding. He explained
the City has been able to afford this because of Telecom Park and because of the annexation of
commercial areas – not the residential areas. He said if they look at the sliding scale of what the
residential market pays in ad valorem versus what the City receives from commercial, that is
when they will say, “Wow”!
Report of Neighborhood Meeting January 24, 2008 Page Eleven.
Council Member Knapp commented that one of the largest liabilities of this Amendment that is
being overlooked and not discussed is that under this bill the commercial piece of property can
only go up 10% per year. While this is great for all the landlords who own the properties and
collect the rents every month, Council Member Knapp said, but those taxes are going to be
capped, and that is where the City has been receiving additional revenue that has kept the City
from raising ad valorem taxes – this should be their concern.
Mayor Affronti mentioned the fact that almost 60% of the City’s budget is spent on public safety
- Fire and Police, which is a huge, huge part of the budget.
A concerned woman suggested that having something other than a vacant parking lot where the
old Publix is would make it more attractive for businesses to move to Temple Terrace.
Mayor Affronti responded that is coming up next – that is the good news. He then called upon
Council Member Govin.
Council Member Govin began by saying they have a lot of good news. He said City Council has
approved the redevelopment plan and they have started into what he calls “final negotiations”
with the developer. Just about every 10 days they meet for a few hours, he said, with other
meetings in between. They met today, he said, and there is a list of 28 action points that have to
occur between now and July 1; while he can’t say it is a done deal, from where they were to
where they are, they have a very active developer.
Council Member Govin said this group is “off and running” and some of the residents may have
seen the developers on site. They have done borings into the property; boundary studies, and
submitted a preliminary site plan for approval, which is scheduled to come before Council on
February 5, for which he has seen the initial schematics today, he said. Council Member Govin
continued that the developer talked about the leases on which they are working very hard, a
meeting is scheduled in mid-February to finalize the Sweetbay lease, agreement has been
reached with Regions Bank and they will be incorporating that property into the development,
and they are talking with Burger King, but haven't reached anything final at this point.
Council Member Govin said there were a lot of encouraging points at today’s meeting. Just
being in the room and feeling the tempo of what is happening, for the first time he said he
thought that maybe this thing can happen. He said it has been such a struggle at every meeting
with almost as many negatives as positives; today it was all positives, which is exciting.
Council Member Govin said one of the pivotal things that stand between success and failure is
finding the tenants. The leasing arm of the developer’s company is hard at work and they have
received good interest in the project. One of the keys, he said, is getting a “junior” anchor.
Sweetbay will be the main anchor, he explained, and junior anchors will be 20,000 – 40,000
square feet and primarily located in the 15 stores that will be renovated next to Sweetbay. While
he said he can't reveal any names, he said he can say that they are talking to some very interested
anchors that would be the key to making this happen.
Report of Neighborhood Meeting January 24, 2008 Page Twelve.
Council Member Govin mentioned that the developer indicated the interest is not only “good”
interest, it is what the developers call "Class A" interest. He said his understanding is the people
who are looking are quality tenants, who are interested in what the streets will look like, and how
that will all blend into what is going on the corner. He noted there are several banks that are
interested. Council Member Govin continued that over the next 8 to 12 weeks they will be
completing major documents with the Purchase and Sale Agreement almost complete. He
concluded that things are happening now and it is extremely encouraging.
Mayor Affronti then called for questions from the audience.
Gloria Kares mentioned that a prospective seller was telling her that Temple Terrace schools are
becoming magnet schools, referring specifically to Temple Terrace Elementary School. Mayor
Affronti explained that school has just been awarded the Bank Street Program, which is a
wonderful program for which the School District selected the kindergarten and first grade at
Temple Terrace Elementary. He said Trinity School in Tampa has had that program for about 10
years and they go from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade.
Mayor Affronti continued that the District applied for a grant for this program years ago and was
finally awarded this and chose Temple Terrace Elementary to be the school. Having attending
the meeting when the program was introduced, he said it requires a lot of the parents’
involvement; it is a very demanding program with certain standards. For instance, he explained
there is a certain amount of time from the parents that has to be devoted to school, and the school
doesn’t just send out report cards; teachers actually call the parents and the child in to discuss
them. Mayor Affronti acknowledged this is a very stringent program and may not be for every
parent; if it is too stringent, the parents can choose another school. He said there was a huge
turnout and the School’s Principal said the next day the phone was ringing off the hook.
Mayor Affronti called on Council Member Fernandez, who has been very involved with the
City's School Support Committee and with Greco Middle School, to elaborate on the program.
Council Member Fernandez clarified that the Bank Street Program is going to be applied to all
grades in Temple Terrace Elementary, but they are starting implementation with kindergarten
and first grade. Since she is not a teacher, she said it is hard for her to talk about the different
teaching styles but if anyone wants clarification on that, they can call the Principal, who can
explain the actual teaching concepts. Council Member Fernandez said she has attended all of the
Temple Terrace schools and is a huge proponent of public schools because there are so many
resources available and it is “real world.” She said she is very active in the schools because of
her belief that the number one thing they can do as parents is their children’s education.
Council Member Fernandez continued she is very involved on a personal and City-level with the
School District and talking with the Principals to find out what can be done to bring the quality
education that our parents in our City are looking for. Being able to get Bank Street Program
was one of the ways to do that, she said, and for Greco Middle School, there is now an
engineering curriculum that will start in the fall. She encouraged the parents to call the Principal,
Dr. Judith Kennedy, to get the specifics concerning the courses, noting there is an application to
get into the program, which involves more rigorous mathematics and science.
Report of Neighborhood Meeting January 24, 2008 Page Thirteen.
Council Member Fernandez explained there is also a requirement for their electives that requires
the student to take a language versus physical education; it will have a rigorous academic
standard. She commented that middle school is a difficult age group because the students are too
young to do so many of the practical things; they are more of a challenge in terms of finding
interesting course work.
Briefly commenting on some of the specifics of the program, Council Member Fernandez said
the program at Greco is offering those students who have high academic achievements, and who
will be required to have high parental involvement and support, ways to creatively get into
engineering and technology fields. She said this program does give parents a choice for an
academically challenging program because of the math and science requirement. She added that
Greco Middle School also offers Mandarin Chinese as a language choice, along with Spanish.
She remarked that much of the manufacturing happens in China.
Council Member Fernandez said she is very excited overall with the School District and with
their response, where they may not have been in the past. School District representatives have
been listening to them and talking with them, she said, as well as attending the School Support
Committee meetings. She said District representatives have also frequently attended the
principals meetings. She said she is excited about the direction they have been able to give.
Mayor Affronti said another thing he wanted to point out, and the District is aware, is he has
looked at the stats that show how many children live within a school boundary, how many
children in that boundary actually attend the school within that boundary, and what school they
attend if they don’t go to the school within their boundary. He said those stats clearly point out
that the curriculum is what causes parents to send their children to various schools. Citing
Williams Middle School as an example, he said that while the school is not in the best of
neighborhoods, a lot of Temple Terrace children attend the school because they have a great
curriculum. It is true of a lot of other schools, he said, that have magnet programs, mentioning
Middleton, Blake, etc. He emphasized the children are attending these schools because of the
curriculum being offered. Mayor Affronti said he has discussed this with Ken Otero and District
Supervisor George Gaffney, and they are working very hard to try to bring great programs into
the Temple Terrace schools that will help to elevate our schools and education level. He said he
hoped that a full presentation will be made within a few weeks on all the different things
happening in our schools that are positive for our children.
A concerned citizen said he wanted the Council to consider continuing the Targeted Harvest
Program that was just terminated, especially in the spring months when it is mating season and
alligators are most active. Mayor Affronti commented it was decided that Council would review
the program at their annual Goal Setting Session.
Another concerned citizen asked whether Temple Terrace had a leash law for dogs and Mayor
Affronti responded he believes so. The concerned citizen said he lives about three blocks away
from the people whose dog was eaten by the alligator, and he feels it was the dog's fault. Mayor
Affronti said that while he appreciated the gentleman’s comments, this kind of thing is arguable.
Report of Neighborhood Meeting January 24, 2008 Page Fourteen.
Mayor Affronti introduced Saleh Mubarak, who is very active in the Muslim community. He
noted there is a large contingent, about 20%, of Muslims living in Temple Terrace. Mayor
Affronti said they have talked for some time about how to get more involvement from the
Muslim community, and he expressed his appreciation to Mr. Mubarak and his friends for being
Saleh Mubarak mentioned he is a former Temple Terrace resident, who was one of those that
was hit hard with property taxes when he made a lateral move to Thonotosassa, and his property
taxes almost tripled. He said he "swallowed that" and he is still undecided about returning to
Council Member Govin wanted to know the time frame of the enactment if Amendment 1 passes
on Tuesday. State Representative Homan responded if it passes, and someone sold their home in
2007, it would be retroactive. He added this is not the last thing that will be on the ballot. He
explained when they vote in November, the Budget and Tax Reform Commission will have
another shot at property tax reform, which will be a lot broader, rather than just on homes, and
may propose getting rid of a lot of special exemptions like suite boxes at football games - things
that would be hard to defend. State Representative Homan said he has also heard that they may
propose to tax some services, which did not go well when Bob Martinez was Governor, but they
may try it again. He reiterated this will not be the end of the tax reform.
Mayor Affronti called on Council Member Frank Chillura, who has been working very hard on
the River Watch Task Force, to provide an update.
Council Member Chillura briefly explained the reason for the formation of the Temple Terrace
River Task Force in early 2007 was to protect the greatest natural asset of Temple Terrace,
which is the Hillsborough River. He said there were concerns about the fluctuation of the
elevation of the River and how it was being handled. Since then, he said they have been
extremely aggressive, noting a handful of residents in addition to him, serve on this Task Force
and have been communicating with the Southwest Florida Water Management District's
(SWFWMD) agencies. He said they were fortunate that the City Manager appointed Joe Gross
as the Staff Liaison to the Task Force, which has been a tremendous help. Council Member
Chillura explained that Mr. Gross has attended almost every meeting that has taken place.
Council Member Chillura said Temple Terrace is on the “radar screen” now. He said he wanted
to express the concern that will be faced as water becomes a greater and greater commodity. He
said if it weren’t for the amount of rain a few days ago, he hadn’t seen the River in the condition
it was, at this time of year, in a very long time. Council Member Chillura said they are looking
for ways to protect the River as it passes through Temple Terrace, although the SWFWMD
agencies consider the River, as it flows through Temple Terrace, as a “reservoir”; they don't call
it a River. He said they have addressed some of these issues and have gotten the attention of
SWFWMD and are still plugging away. He mentioned that tours had been scheduled where they
visited different structures and the By-Pass dam. He noted that this coming Monday, they have a
scheduled field trip to the Tampa Dam; if anyone is interested, they can contact the City Clerk’s
office. He said these tours are to further educate themselves on the River that flows through the
City of Temple Terrace.
Report of Neighborhood Meeting January 24, 2008 Page Fifteen.
Council Member Chillura extended his thanks to State Representative Homan as well as to State
Senator Victor Crist who expressed interest in assisting Temple Terrace with getting more
attention from the SWFWMD agency. Since that time, he said, after a lot of thought, he has
applied for a position on the SWFWMD Board, which will become vacant the end of February;
the former appointee is not seeking re-appointment. He said any help that State Representative
Homan can provide relative to this appointment would greatly be appreciated, adding that the
Board position is an appointment by the Governor. He stated that if the City of Temple Terrace
has a resident on the SWFWMD Board, the City would certainly get the attention it needs.
Council Member Chillura concluded that they are working on the River issues and urged each
and every resident to pay close attention. Prior to the River Watch Task Force’s involvement,
he said not much attention has been brought to this issue as far as SWFWMD goes, noting that
Temple Terrace wasn't even brought up to speed as to the amount of water that was being taken
out and amount that was being put in, the minimum flows, etc. He said they are very active and
encourages everyone to "stay tuned"; they do have regular meetings and welcomes anyone to
Mayor Affronti reminded everyone that he has copies of the information about the support and
concerns regarding Amendment 1 in case anyone was interested in obtaining one. He again
thanked everyone for attending and he hoped the information will be helpful.
The meeting concluded at 8:30 p.m.
Deputy City Clerk