Officials Worried About Local Financial Implications Of Oil Spill

July 9, 2010

State and local officials are worried about the local financial implications of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and they are talking drilling bans, income tax cuts and property tax problems.

Gov. Charlie Crist called Thursday for a special session aimed at a constitutional ban on offshore drilling, while Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Alex Sink urged the federal government to leave lost income payments alone when tax times rolls around.

Meanwhile, local government and business groups met with state officials to map out strategies for tracking the mounting costs of the BP Deepwater Horizon spill that continues to spew oil in the gulf and may alter the economics of the region for years to come.

Local governments, which have so far spent millions on protective measures and clean-up efforts, face plunging property values that, in turn, may further reduce the cash flow needed to pay for the schools, roads and other local responsibilities funded with property taxes. Somehow, they want to be repaid.

“This is a nightmare in slow motion,” said Greg Brown, Santa Rosa County property appraiser. “This is going to be with us for a long time.”

Leading off a flurry of oil-related activity, Crist called on lawmakers to return July 20 to craft a proposed constitutional amendment to ban oil and gas exploration in state waters. That’s likely to set up a standoff with reluctant Republican lawmakers, who have balked at the idea and led opponents of the no-party governor to call it a politically-motivated grandstand.

“Politics has nothing to do with this,” Crist said. “This has everything to do with what is right for a place that I love.”

Speaking to reporters, the governor said he’s no longer going to wait for consensus before calling lawmakers back into session, saying that time is running out for voters to address the issue during the Nov. 4 general election. Sixty percent of voters would have to agree to pass the proposal.

“They ought to have an opportunity, the people, to put it into their constitution so if a Legislature comes along and forgets what’s happening out there this year, that that doesn’t happen again,” Crist said.

Earlier Thursday, business and local government representatives underscored the difficulty in tracking just how much the BP oil spill has cost public and private entities and how long those adverse impacts will linger.

Among the immediate questions posed to the Oil Spill Economic Recovery Task Force working group were how the spill will affect property values when they are assessed again in January and what property owners will do when they get their tax notices in August. The working group is formulating a slate of recommendations for the full task force.

Property tax levels are based on the January 2010 assessed values, which may have fallen since the spill began April 20. Property owners who think the values are inaccurate have the right to address their local adjustment board, which may see a significant uptick in appeals this fall.

“I think you’re going to see a lot of people challenging their assessments,” Brown said.

While local governments look for a way to boost tax revenue, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the leading Democratic candidate for governor, sent a letter to members of Florida’s Congressional Delegation asking them to support legislation that would waive the federal income tax on the lost income payments Floridians have received from BP. Those payments, which have so far totaled more than $25 million in Florida, should be considered tax exempt as residents struggle to get back on their feet, she said.

“Every dollar counts right now as many Floridians struggle to get by because of the oil disaster, and this common-sense measure just makes sense for our citizens and businesses,” said Sink. “BP should pay for this income tax loss, instead of taking much needed resources from our small business owners and other Floridians.” file photo of oil on Pensacola Beach by Regina Hare, click to enlarge.


8 Responses to “Officials Worried About Local Financial Implications Of Oil Spill”

  1. Bob on July 10th, 2010 5:35 pm

    I notice one paragraph is devoted to plunging property values. I can’t believe all the ideas people have to not pay their fair share. All the pictures published by the media has not shown me any evidence of tar balls in homes or any high rise condos. Maybe if they want their assessments lowered the county can purchase them and put them on the market for everyone to buy at assessed prices. I’d like to have one,and another thing When I was a young lad we would take a trip to the beach and step on tar balls so they are not new.

  2. SW on July 10th, 2010 12:33 pm

    Do a search on the ‘Ixtoc 1″. It ran wild for about 9 months off the coast of Mexico in the Gulf back in 1979-1980. I never heard of it until now. Almost the same thing happened-pollution, casualties, and all.

    If drilling were done onshore, maybe they wouldn’t be drilling offshore.

    Yeah, let’s tax the oil companies-that’ll show ‘em…of course they’ll just pass that along to us in the form of increased prices for petroleum related products, i.e., gasoline, natural gas, plastic, cosmetics, asphalt, etc., not to mention the increased cost of transportation and production of other items like groceries, automobiles, building supplies.

    Another thing to remember. OIl companies drill for oil and produce it into many different things; chemical companies use oil for many things, too. Crude oil is not just used for fuels. The price for that oil and for the products is set by the traders on the stock market. Crude oil is traded on the stock market. Gasoline and other petroleum fuels are traded on the market as well. There is some free market influence, but not that much. If a refinery or petrochem company buys oil, it pays the market price. The point is, the oil companies don’t set the price. Even the price at the pump for gasoline is set by brokers and traders; not the local store owners.

    I’ve been to Prince William Sound in Alaska, the most beautiful water I’ve ever seen. Otters and seals and birds (including eagles) abound. The glaciers are absolutely gorgeous. As a matter of fact, they dipped out the ice from the water and made drinks for us. I think the Valdez mess has been adequately cleaned up and Exxon has paid dearly, both in cost and in bad publicity. BP, too should shoulder the cost of cleanup and remediation; they should be held accountable for their bad practices in their drilling programs and the individuals responsible should be dealt with adequately as well.

    As for regulations and rules, they’re already in place. The agencies responsible for enforcement failed. The last thing needed is more government intervention; just enforce compliance with existing rules. Remember, there were no safety violations, according to inspectors, on this drilling rig prior to this blowout. (I’m reminded of the days of vehicle inspections and the junk we still saw being driven on the highways). Just exactly how many other blowouts and spills have there been lately? In past decades?

    I hate to see this as much as anyone else. I think the water and the shores in NW FL are the most beautiful in the world.

    However, this is not the time to panic and do foolish things; the environmentalist extremists have done their fair share of damage to our economy and this is just another bullet for their radical gun.

    I for one, think the governor is just playing on emotions to further his political ambitions.

    This well will be capped; the mess will be cleaned up; the damages will be recovered from-nature has a way of healing itself; business will recover-if it doesn’t, new business will form and replace. I sincerely believe that this is not Armageddon.

  3. ABC on July 10th, 2010 8:51 am

    Apparently everyone has “not got It” this spill will destroy life in ‘OUR GULF” for 100 yrs or more into the future…………if you think it will be safe to eat the bounty our Gulf has provided you are not informed……. We don’t eat seafood unless it comes from our Gulf, .Alaskan or Canadian waters. and if frozen, it must be frozen either in Our country or Canada……..The spill in Alaska was nothing compared to this. Come on Folks do some studying on the subject, I for one don’t want any more drilling in our gulf, and they need to resurrect the tax the drilling companies pay to “We the People” for continuing to pull the oil and gas from “Our Gulf and Lands, afte rall We The O People Own these God given lands,,,,,,,,ALSO these Oil drilling companies need to be monitored astingently for safety, equipment, etc. with “educated” Inspectors behind their backs continually and watch dogs to be sure there are no “Payoffs” anymore………………..We also need a Non Political Task Force of “Educated” Environmentalists to devise the best methods for this country to ger away from dependence on Oil, and use a portion of the “tax” paid by the Oil Industry to our citizens to pay for the methods devised to this end…… Lets face it folks the Oil Barons and their political cronies have been double dipping for years, they get us by taking our resources and then get us again at the pumps……….

  4. No! to deep well drilling in the gulf on July 9th, 2010 3:02 pm

    There are thousands of abandoned wells in the Gulf now, with no one keeping a check on them for leaks. How deep are they, who would be responsible for trying to stop them from leaking, can they be stopped? The ocean is very corrosive.

    Florida, TOTALLY depends on tourists, the state can’t afford to have drilling off the coast of Florida. Just think ,if the leak we now have was any closer to our coast, what a even bigger mess this would be.

    Crist, is doing the right thing for the state of Florida. It would be a disaster to have them off the coast of Florida.

    The jobs gained from the workers for the oil drilling is very small when compared to the jobs losts from leaks, danger and ugliness.

  5. Darryl on July 9th, 2010 2:03 pm

    Wow; those who think this will just be a little clean up and we’ll be back to normal fail to understand the damage done, and as usual are eager to get back to drilling for whatever cheap oil you think you’re getting from it. Does anyone really understand the long term effects of this pumping millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf?

    Here’s a report done 10 years after the Alaskan spill.

    Another study done 15 years later:
    “Beyond their acute losses, marine mammals and sea ducks suffered high mortality for years after the accident in part because they ate invertebrates contaminated by the hidden oil and also contacted oil directly while digging up prey. Species as diverse as sea otters, harlequin ducks and killer whales suffered large, long-term losses. Oiled mussel beds and other tidal shoreline habitats will take an estimated 30 years to recover.”

    Article from June this year:

    We will continue to use oil for some time in the future, but after 30 years of blatantly ignoring any alternatives or viable research into alternatives we are posed to loose our status as leader in technology in the fields dealing with energy. Germany, Australia and China are way ahead of us, and Germany is one example of a country making headway despite not having the ideal climate for some solar technologies. As long as we plan only in the short term at the lowest cost, we’ll continue to crap in our own nest, so to speak, for years to come.

  6. just peachy on July 9th, 2010 11:35 am

    Was a ban enacted on shipping oil in tankers through Alaskan waters after the Exxon Valdeze accident? That was considered the largest oil spill and a major environmental disaster at the time. And, they keep saying this is the largest oil spill in U.S. history. Has there been a spill of this magnitude elsewhere in the WORLD? If so, lets get some information from the agencies involved who have some prior experience in this kind of disaster. Do all these other countries have oil skimmer ships “just in case?”

  7. jlh on July 9th, 2010 8:44 am

    dnutjob is right. People need to calm down. And how is banning offshore drilling going to help the situation? The oil is already spilled and there is no way to ‘unspill’ it no matter how many laws you make against offshore drilling. Banning offshore drilling will only take away more high paying jobs that this area needs the most in a time like this. Taking away jobs will only hinder the recovery. What needs to happen is stricter regulations that ARE FOLLOWED to prevent any other accidents, and more saftey measures (equipment) to prevent large oil spills. More people are killed/affected by traffic accidents than this oil spill, but do we ban driving? No, that would be absurd! Instead we build safer cars, safer roads, install laws that help protect us, and put out people to help enforce those laws. The same should be true for offshore drilling. There are other ways of preventing another huge spill, and going crazy and banning drilling would be absurd.

  8. dnutjob on July 9th, 2010 6:39 am

    You know my house burned down in april and they said they could not reassess my property and I would have to pay the full value at the time of the assesment, so whats the difference? Every dollar counts for everyone, people were out of work long before this spill ever happen and it will be all nice and pretty again after they stop the leak and clean it up, everybody acts like thier life is over. It is just another bump in the road I am so sorry they won’t be able to charge 500 dollars a nite for a room, so sad WOW. Thats why this county needs to get industry in here not focus on tourism, bring in something that will last all year round.

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