Florida Senate - 2014                                     SB 568
       By Senator Abruzzo
       25-00494-14                                            2014568__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to value adjustment boards; amending
    3         s. 194.011, F.S.; providing that presiding magistrates
    4         must use a specified manual in proceedings before the
    5         board; amending s. 194.015, F.S.; deleting the
    6         requirement that a value adjustment board must appoint
    7         a private counsel; prohibiting a meeting of the board
    8         unless a quorum and the presiding magistrate are
    9         present; creating s. 194.016, F.S.; requiring the
   10         Department of Revenue to appoint a presiding
   11         magistrate for each county value adjustment board;
   12         providing qualifications, compensation,
   13         responsibilities, requirements, 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 must be
   41  shall be made available, at a minimum, on the department’s
   42  website and on the existing websites of the clerks of circuit
   43  courts.
   44         Section 2. Section 194.015, Florida Statutes, is amended to
   45  read:
   46         194.015 Value adjustment board.—There is hereby created A
   47  value adjustment board shall be established in for each county.
   48         (1) Each board, which shall consist of:
   49         (a) Two members of the governing body of the county as
   50  elected from the membership of the board of said governing body,
   51  one of whom shall be elected chair of the value adjustment
   52  board; chairperson, and
   53         (b) One member of the school board as elected from the
   54  membership of the school board;, and
   55         (c) Two citizen members, one of whom shall be appointed by
   56  the governing body of the county and must own homestead property
   57  within the county and one of whom shall must be appointed by the
   58  school board and must own a business occupying commercial space
   59  located within the school district. A citizen member may not be
   60  a member or an employee of any taxing authority, and may not be
   61  a person who represents property owners in an any administrative
   62  or judicial review of property taxes.
   64  The members of the board may be temporarily replaced by other
   65  members of the respective boards on appointment by their
   66  respective chairpersons.
   67         (2) Any three members shall constitute a quorum of the
   68  board, except that each quorum must include at least one member
   69  of the county said governing board, at least one member of the
   70  school board, and at least one citizen member. A and no meeting
   71  of the board may not shall take place unless a quorum is
   72  present.
   73         (3) Members of the board may receive such per diem
   74  compensation as provided under s. 112.061 is allowed by law for
   75  state employees if both the county governing body and school
   76  board bodies elect to allow such compensation.
   77         (4) The clerk of the governing body of the county shall be
   78  the clerk of the value adjustment board. The board shall appoint
   79  private counsel who has practiced law for over 5 years and who
   80  shall receive such compensation as may be established by the
   81  board. The private counsel may not represent the property
   82  appraiser, the tax collector, any taxing authority, or any
   83  property owner in any administrative or judicial review of
   84  property taxes.
   85         (5)A meeting of the board may not No meeting of the board
   86  shall take place unless the presiding magistrate of counsel to
   87  the board is present.
   88         (6) Two-fifths of the expenses of the board shall be borne
   89  by the district school board and three-fifths by the district
   90  county commission.
   91         Section 3. Section 194.016, Florida Statutes, is created to
   92  read:
   93         194.016 Presiding magistrates.—
   94         (1) The department shall appoint a presiding magistrate to
   95  serve the value adjustment board of each county. A presiding
   96  magistrate may be appointed to serve more than one county value
   97  adjustment board as determined by the department.
   98         (a) The presiding magistrate must be a private attorney who
   99  has practiced law for at least 5 years.
  100         (b) The presiding magistrate may not represent a property
  101  appraiser, a tax collector, a taxing authority, or a property
  102  owner in an administrative or judicial review of property taxes.
  103         (c) The presiding magistrate shall receive such
  104  compensation as is established by the department, which shall be
  105  paid by the county value adjustment board.
  106         (2) The presiding magistrate is responsible for determining
  107  whether the decisions of the value adjustment board are in
  108  compliance with all applicable statutes, the administrative
  109  code, and the case law of this state. The presiding magistrate
  110  shall supervise all special magistrates and determine whether
  111  the decisions of the special magistrates are in compliance with
  112  all applicable statutes, the administrative code, and the case
  113  law of this state. The presiding magistrate may require a
  114  special magistrate to rehear a petition, remove a special
  115  magistrate without cause, or order another special magistrate to
  116  hear a petition.
  117         Section 4. Subsection (1) of section 194.035, Florida
  118  Statutes, is amended to read:
  119         194.035 Special magistrates; property evaluators.—
  120         (1) In counties having a population of more than 75,000,
  121  The presiding magistrate board shall appoint special magistrates
  122  for the purpose of taking testimony and making recommendations
  123  to the board, which recommendations the board may act upon
  124  without further hearing. These Special magistrates may not be
  125  elected or appointed officials or employees of the county but
  126  shall be selected from a list of those qualified individuals who
  127  are willing to serve as special magistrates, but may not be.
  128  employees or and elected or appointed officials of the county, a
  129  taxing jurisdiction, or of the state may not serve as special
  130  magistrates. The clerk of the board shall annually notify such
  131  individuals or their professional associations to inform make
  132  known to them of that opportunities to serve as special
  133  magistrates exist. The Department of Revenue shall provide a
  134  list of qualified special magistrates to any county with a
  135  population of 75,000 or less. Subject to appropriation, the
  136  department shall reimburse counties with a population of 75,000
  137  or less for payments made to special magistrates appointed for
  138  the purpose of taking testimony and making recommendations to
  139  the value adjustment board pursuant to this section. The
  140  department shall establish a reasonable range for payments per
  141  case to special magistrates based on such payments to special
  142  magistrates in other counties. Requests for reimbursement of
  143  payments outside this range must shall be justified by the
  144  county. If the total of all requests for reimbursement in any
  145  year exceeds the amount available pursuant to this section,
  146  payments to all counties shall be prorated accordingly. If a
  147  county having a population less than 75,000 does not appoint a
  148  special magistrate to hear each petition, the person or persons
  149  designated to hear petitions before the value adjustment board
  150  or the attorney appointed to advise the value adjustment board
  151  shall attend the training provided pursuant to subsection (3),
  152  regardless of whether the person would otherwise be required to
  153  attend, but shall not be required to pay the tuition fee
  154  specified in subsection (3). A special magistrate appointed to
  155  hear issues of exemptions and classifications must shall be a
  156  member of The Florida Bar with at least no less than 5 years’
  157  experience in the area of ad valorem taxation. A special
  158  magistrate appointed to hear issues regarding the valuation of
  159  real estate must shall be a state certified real estate
  160  appraiser with at least not less than 5 years’ experience in
  161  real property valuation. A special magistrate appointed to hear
  162  issues regarding the valuation of tangible personal property
  163  must shall be a designated member of a nationally recognized
  164  appraiser’s organization with at least not less than 5 years’
  165  experience in tangible personal property valuation. A special
  166  magistrate need not be a resident of the county in which he or
  167  she serves. A special magistrate may not represent a person
  168  before the board in any tax year during which he or she has
  169  served that board as a special magistrate. Before appointing a
  170  special magistrate, a value adjustment board must shall verify
  171  the special magistrate’s qualifications. The presiding
  172  magistrate value adjustment board shall ensure that the
  173  selection of special magistrates is based solely upon the
  174  experience and qualifications of the special magistrate and is
  175  not influenced by the property appraiser. The special magistrate
  176  shall accurately and completely preserve all testimony and, in
  177  making recommendations to the value adjustment board, shall
  178  include proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law, and
  179  reasons for upholding or overturning the determination of the
  180  property appraiser. The expense of hearings before magistrates
  181  and any compensation of special magistrates shall be borne
  182  three-fifths by the board of county commissioners and two-fifths
  183  by the school board.
  184         Section 5. Subsection (2) of section 195.002, Florida
  185  Statutes, is amended to read:
  186         195.002 Supervision by Department of Revenue.—
  187         (2) In furtherance of its duty to conduct schools to
  188  upgrade assessment skills and collection skills, the department
  189  may establish by rule committees on admissions and
  190  certification. The department may also incur reasonable expenses
  191  for hiring instructors, travel, office operations, certificates
  192  of completion, badges or awards, food service incidental to
  193  conducting such schools, salaries and benefits of department
  194  employees whose duties are directly associated with developing
  195  and conducting such schools, and administering any certification
  196  program under s. 145.10, s. 145.11, or s. 194.035. The
  197  department may charge a tuition fee and an examination fee to
  198  any person who attends such a school and may charge a fee to
  199  certify or recertify any person under such a program. The
  200  department shall deposit such fees into the Certification
  201  Program Trust Fund which is created in the State Treasury. There
  202  shall be separate school accounts and program accounts in the
  203  trust fund for property appraisers, tax collectors, presiding
  204  magistrates, and special magistrates. The department shall use
  205  money in the fund to pay such expenses.
  206         Section 6. This act shall take effect July 1, 2014.