2020 Florida Statutes
Special magistrates; property evaluators.
Special magistrates; property evaluators.
194.035 Special magistrates; property evaluators.—
(1) In counties having a population of more than 75,000, the board shall appoint special magistrates for the purpose of taking testimony and making recommendations to the board, which recommendations the board may act upon without further hearing. These special magistrates may not be elected or appointed officials or employees of the county but shall be selected from a list of those qualified individuals who are willing to serve as special magistrates. Employees and elected or appointed officials of a taxing jurisdiction or of the state may not serve as special magistrates. The clerk of the board shall annually notify such individuals or their professional associations to make known to them that opportunities to serve as special magistrates exist. The Department of Revenue shall provide a list of qualified special magistrates to any county with a population of 75,000 or less. Subject to appropriation, the department shall reimburse counties with a population of 75,000 or less for payments made to special magistrates appointed for the purpose of taking testimony and making recommendations to the value adjustment board pursuant to this section. The department shall establish a reasonable range for payments per case to special magistrates based on such payments in other counties. Requests for reimbursement of payments outside this range shall be justified by the county. If the total of all requests for reimbursement in any year exceeds the amount available pursuant to this section, payments to all counties shall be prorated accordingly. If a county having a population less than 75,000 does not appoint a special magistrate to hear each petition, the person or persons designated to hear petitions before the value adjustment board or the attorney appointed to advise the value adjustment board shall attend the training provided pursuant to subsection (3), regardless of whether the person would otherwise be required to attend, but shall not be required to pay the tuition fee specified in subsection (3). A special magistrate appointed to hear issues of exemptions, classifications, and determinations that a change of ownership, a change of ownership or control, or a qualifying improvement has occurred shall be a member of The Florida Bar with no less than 5 years’ experience in the area of ad valorem taxation. A special magistrate appointed to hear issues regarding the valuation of real estate shall be a state certified real estate appraiser with not less than 5 years’ experience in real property valuation. A special magistrate appointed to hear issues regarding the valuation of tangible personal property shall be a designated member of a nationally recognized appraiser’s organization with not less than 5 years’ experience in tangible personal property valuation. A special magistrate need not be a resident of the county in which he or she serves. A special magistrate may not represent a person before the board in any tax year during which he or she has served that board as a special magistrate. An appraisal may not be submitted as evidence to a value adjustment board in any year that the person who performed the appraisal serves as a special magistrate to that value adjustment board. Before appointing a special magistrate, a value adjustment board shall verify the special magistrate’s qualifications. The value adjustment board shall ensure that the selection of special magistrates is based solely upon the experience and qualifications of the special magistrate and is not influenced by the property appraiser. The special magistrate shall accurately and completely preserve all testimony and, in making recommendations to the value adjustment board, shall include proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law, and reasons for upholding or overturning the determination of the property appraiser. The expense of hearings before magistrates and any compensation of special magistrates shall be borne three-fifths by the board of county commissioners and two-fifths by the school board. When appointing special magistrates or when scheduling special magistrates for specific hearings, the board, the board attorney, and the board clerk may not consider the dollar amount or percentage of any assessment reductions recommended by any special magistrate in the current year or in any previous year.
(2) The value adjustment board of each county may employ qualified property appraisers or evaluators to appear before the value adjustment board at that meeting of the board which is held for the purpose of hearing complaints. Such property appraisers or evaluators shall present testimony as to the just value of any property the value of which is contested before the board and shall submit to examination by the board, the taxpayer, and the property appraiser.
(3) The department shall provide and conduct training for special magistrates at least once each state fiscal year in at least five locations throughout the state. Such training shall emphasize the department’s standard measures of value, including the guidelines for real and tangible personal property. Notwithstanding subsection (1), a person who has 3 years of relevant experience and who has completed the training provided by the department under this subsection may be appointed as a special magistrate. The training shall be open to the public. The department shall charge tuition fees to any person attending this training in an amount sufficient to fund the department’s costs to conduct all aspects of the training. The department shall deposit the fees collected into the Certification Program Trust Fund pursuant to s. 195.002(2).
History.—s. 22, ch. 83-204; s. 148, ch. 91-112; s. 981, ch. 95-147; s. 4, ch. 2002-18; s. 72, ch. 2004-11; s. 5, ch. 2008-197; s. 12, ch. 2016-128; s. 4, ch. 2020-10.