Florida Senate - 2013                                    SB 1754
       By Senator Evers
       2-01018-13                                            20131754__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to administrative review of property
    3         taxes; amending s. 194.011, F.S.; providing that
    4         presiding magistrates must use a specified manual in
    5         certain proceedings; amending s. 194.015, F.S.;
    6         deleting the requirement that a value adjustment board
    7         must appoint private counsel; prohibiting a meeting of
    8         the value adjustment board unless the presiding
    9         magistrate is present; creating s. 194.016, F.S.;
   10         requiring the Department of Revenue to appoint a
   11         presiding magistrate for each county value adjustment
   12         board; providing qualifications, compensation,
   13         requirements, responsibilities, and duties with
   14         respect to presiding magistrates; amending s. 194.035,
   15         F.S.; requiring presiding magistrates to appoint
   16         special magistrates; deleting a requirement that the
   17         value adjustment board appoint special magistrates in
   18         counties having more than a specified population;
   19         deleting a requirement that the Department of Revenue
   20         provide a list of qualified special magistrates to
   21         counties having less than a specified population;
   22         deleting certain requirements relating to the training
   23         of persons designated to hear petitions before the
   24         board in certain counties that do not appoint special
   25         magistrates; amending s. 195.002, F.S.; requiring a
   26         separate school account and program account in the
   27         Certification Program Trust Fund in the State Treasury
   28         for funding certain expenses with respect to presiding
   29         magistrates; providing an effective date.
   31  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   33         Section 1. Paragraph (b) of subsection (5) of section
   34  194.011, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
   35         194.011 Assessment notice; objections to assessments.—
   36         (5)
   37         (b) The department shall develop a uniform policies and
   38  procedures manual that shall be used by value adjustment boards,
   39  presiding magistrates, special magistrates, and taxpayers in
   40  proceedings before value adjustment boards. The manual shall be
   41  made available, at a minimum, on the department’s website and on
   42  the existing websites of the clerks of circuit courts.
   43         Section 2. Section 194.015, Florida Statutes, is amended to
   44  read:
   45         194.015 Value adjustment board.—There is hereby created a
   46  value adjustment board for each county, which shall consist of
   47  two members of the governing body of the county as elected from
   48  the membership of the board of said governing body, one of whom
   49  shall be elected chairperson, and one member of the school board
   50  as elected from the membership of the school board, and two
   51  citizen members, one of whom shall be appointed by the governing
   52  body of the county and must own homestead property within the
   53  county and one of whom must be appointed by the school board and
   54  must own a business occupying commercial space located within
   55  the school district. A citizen member may not be a member or an
   56  employee of any taxing authority, and may not be a person who
   57  represents property owners in any administrative or judicial
   58  review of property taxes. The members of the board may be
   59  temporarily replaced by other members of the respective boards
   60  on appointment by their respective chairpersons. Any three
   61  members shall constitute a quorum of the board, except that each
   62  quorum must include at least one member of said governing board,
   63  at least one member of the school board, and at least one
   64  citizen member and no meeting of the board shall take place
   65  unless a quorum is present. Members of the board may receive
   66  such per diem compensation as is allowed by law for state
   67  employees if both bodies elect to allow such compensation. The
   68  clerk of the governing body of the county shall be the clerk of
   69  the value adjustment board. The board shall appoint private
   70  counsel who has practiced law for over 5 years and who shall
   71  receive such compensation as may be established by the board.
   72  The private counsel may not represent the property appraiser,
   73  the tax collector, any taxing authority, or any property owner
   74  in any administrative or judicial review of property taxes. No
   75  meeting of the board shall take place unless the presiding
   76  magistrate of counsel to the board is present. Two-fifths of the
   77  expenses of the board shall be borne by the district school
   78  board and three-fifths by the district county commission.
   79         Section 3. Section 194.016, Florida Statutes, is created to
   80  read:
   81         194.016 Presiding magistrates; appointment; qualifications
   82  and compensation; duties and responsibilities.—
   83         (1) The department shall appoint a presiding magistrate for
   84  the value adjustment board for each county. A presiding
   85  magistrate may be appointed to serve more than one value
   86  adjustment board as determined by the department.
   87         (2) The presiding magistrate shall be a private counsel who
   88  has practiced law for more than 5 years and who shall receive
   89  such compensation as may be established by the department. The
   90  compensation of the presiding magistrate shall be an expense of
   91  the valuation adjustment board. The presiding magistrate may not
   92  represent the property appraiser, the tax collector, a taxing
   93  authority, or a property owner in an administrative or judicial
   94  review of property taxes.
   95         (3) The presiding magistrate shall be responsible for
   96  determining whether all the decisions of the value adjustment
   97  board are in compliance with all the applicable statutes,
   98  provisions of the administrative code, and case law of this
   99  state. The presiding magistrate shall supervise all special
  100  magistrates and determine whether all the decisions of the
  101  special magistrates are in compliance with all the applicable
  102  statutes, provisions of the administrative code, and case law of
  103  this state. The presiding magistrate shall have the discretion
  104  to require a special magistrate to rehear a petition, remove a
  105  special magistrate without cause, or order another special
  106  magistrate to hear a petition.
  107         Section 4. Subsection (1) of section 194.035, Florida
  108  Statutes, is amended to read:
  109         194.035 Special magistrates; property evaluators.—
  110         (1) In counties having a population of more than 75,000,
  111  The presiding magistrate board shall appoint special magistrates
  112  for the purpose of taking testimony and making recommendations
  113  to the board, which recommendations the board may act upon
  114  without further hearing. These special magistrates may not be
  115  elected or appointed officials or employees of the county but
  116  shall be selected from a list of those qualified individuals who
  117  are willing to serve as special magistrates. Employees and
  118  elected or appointed officials of a taxing jurisdiction or of
  119  the state may not serve as special magistrates. The clerk of the
  120  board shall annually notify such individuals or their
  121  professional associations to make known to them that
  122  opportunities to serve as special magistrates exist. The
  123  Department of Revenue shall provide a list of qualified special
  124  magistrates to any county with a population of 75,000 or less.
  125  Subject to appropriation, the department shall reimburse
  126  counties with a population of 75,000 or less for payments made
  127  to special magistrates appointed for the purpose of taking
  128  testimony and making recommendations to the value adjustment
  129  board pursuant to this section. The department shall establish a
  130  reasonable range for payments per case to special magistrates
  131  based on such payments in other counties. Requests for
  132  reimbursement of payments outside this range shall be justified
  133  by the county. If the total of all requests for reimbursement in
  134  any year exceeds the amount available pursuant to this section,
  135  payments to all counties shall be prorated accordingly. If a
  136  county having a population less than 75,000 does not appoint a
  137  special magistrate to hear each petition, the person or persons
  138  designated to hear petitions before the value adjustment board
  139  or the attorney appointed to advise the value adjustment board
  140  shall attend the training provided pursuant to subsection (3),
  141  regardless of whether the person would otherwise be required to
  142  attend, but shall not be required to pay the tuition fee
  143  specified in subsection (3). A special magistrate appointed to
  144  hear issues of exemptions and classifications shall be a member
  145  of The Florida Bar with no less than 5 years’ experience in the
  146  area of ad valorem taxation. A special magistrate appointed to
  147  hear issues regarding the valuation of real estate shall be a
  148  state certified real estate appraiser with not less than 5
  149  years’ experience in real property valuation. A special
  150  magistrate appointed to hear issues regarding the valuation of
  151  tangible personal property shall be a designated member of a
  152  nationally recognized appraiser’s organization with not less
  153  than 5 years’ experience in tangible personal property
  154  valuation. A special magistrate need not be a resident of the
  155  county in which he or she serves. A special magistrate may not
  156  represent a person before the board in any tax year during which
  157  he or she has served that board as a special magistrate. Before
  158  appointing a special magistrate, a value adjustment board shall
  159  verify the special magistrate’s qualifications. The presiding
  160  magistrate value adjustment board shall ensure that the
  161  selection of special magistrates is based solely upon the
  162  experience and qualifications of the special magistrate and is
  163  not influenced by the property appraiser. The special magistrate
  164  shall accurately and completely preserve all testimony and, in
  165  making recommendations to the value adjustment board, shall
  166  include proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law, and
  167  reasons for upholding or overturning the determination of the
  168  property appraiser. The expense of hearings before magistrates
  169  and any compensation of special magistrates shall be borne
  170  three-fifths by the board of county commissioners and two-fifths
  171  by the school board.
  172         Section 5. Subsection (2) of section 195.002, Florida
  173  Statutes, is amended to read:
  174         195.002 Supervision by Department of Revenue.—
  175         (2) In furtherance of its duty to conduct schools to
  176  upgrade assessment skills and collection skills, the department
  177  may establish by rule committees on admissions and
  178  certification. The department may also incur reasonable expenses
  179  for hiring instructors, travel, office operations, certificates
  180  of completion, badges or awards, food service incidental to
  181  conducting such schools, salaries and benefits of department
  182  employees whose duties are directly associated with developing
  183  and conducting such schools, and administering any certification
  184  program under s. 145.10, s. 145.11, or s. 194.035. The
  185  department may charge a tuition fee and an examination fee to
  186  any person who attends such a school and may charge a fee to
  187  certify or recertify any person under such a program. The
  188  department shall deposit such fees into the Certification
  189  Program Trust Fund which is created in the State Treasury. There
  190  shall be separate school accounts and program accounts in the
  191  trust fund for property appraisers, tax collectors, presiding
  192  magistrates, and special magistrates. The department shall use
  193  money in the fund to pay such expenses.
  194         Section 6. This act shall take effect July 1, 2013.