Hurricane Irma could delay the voices of some Florida taxpayers from being heard.
It was an unavoidable case of timing. The powerful hurricane bore down on the state as cities, counties, school boards and other taxing bodies were scheduling public hearings required by law before they can revise their tax rates for the new fiscal year. The public hearings are usually held in September. (The fiscal year for local governments begins on Oct. 1, and the state fiscal year begins July 1.)
The executive director of the state Department of Revenue, Leon Biegalski, issued an order on Sept. 6, temporarily waiving the timing requirement for local taxing authorities to hold public hearings. The directive was based on Gov. Rick Scott’s executive order Sept. 4 that declared a statewide emergency in Florida in advance of Hurricane Irma’s arrival.
Biegalski’s order reads in part: “The Department, in the interest of public safety, hereby waives the timing compliance requirements of the following statutes and rules to the extent necessary to meet the emergency declared in EO 17-235 [Scott‘s executive order] and provides additional specific requirements with respect to local taxing authorities holding their millage and budget hearings to ensure consistent adequate notice is provided to taxpayers.”
CSX and EverBank have reopened downtown. So has The Jacksonville Landing.
Wells Fargo has not. Neither has European Street or Bistro Aix and there’s no telling how long it will take for those two San Marco mainstays to resume business.
As Jacksonville dries out after Hurricane Irma’s deluge and straightens up from its wind, area businesses are getting back to work. Most of them anyway.
So many businesses were affected in so many ways, from high water to downed trees. Grocery stores opened, but many had empty shelves and freezers that had to be emptied because everything hadn’t stayed frozen. Restaurants opened with limited menus and many other businesses opened with limited staff.
David Altmaier, commissioner of the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, issued an emergency order Wednesday that protects policyholders from from abuse by their insurance companies in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
“Given the strength and size of Hurricane Irma, its catastrophic effect on Florida, stretching from coast to coast and its potential impact on hundreds of thousands of policyholders, the office expects all insurers and regulated entities to implement processes and procedures to facilitate the efficient payment of claims,” the order said.
The order allows policyholders an extra 90 days to give information to their insurance company, bans raising rates on policyholders for 90 days and bars insurance companies from canceling or not renewing policies related to homes damaged by the storm for 90 days.