By now we’ve all seen the damage resulting from the April 20th oil well explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. From wildlife covered in muck to tar balls littering beaches, the physical destruction has been widespread and wretched. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find the financial toll is expanding as well.
There’s no doubt untold losses are affecting everyone from fishermen to tourist hot spots but the damage is also seeping further into the economy. For example, many property owners in Florida are faced with tax bills reflecting assessments made as of January 1, 2010 rather than today’s reduced market value post oil spill. (Experts predict Gulf-shore properties may decrease by 10 percent for at least three years.)
Florida governor Charlie Crist is trying to help.
In an attempt to get more accurate numbers for property owners, Crist signed an executive order authorizing property appraisers in 26 counties affected by the spill to provide unofficial interim assessments when requested. Property owners in turn can use this new documentation to request compensation from BP and others responsible. It may also be useful eventually in getting rebates for the difference in tax bill prices.
While this order is not quite as good as legislation passed following a nasty hurricane season in 2004 when the government gave partial tax rebates to people who could not live in their homes, it’s a start. Lawmakers will also be meeting in September to discuss other tax relief possibilities and oil-spill legislation.