Thursday, July 13, 2017

Florida in focus: Florida justices reject challenge to Scott veto of citrus tree payout

By Watchdog News - July 13, 2017 at 05:34PM

Florida justices reject challenge to Scott veto of citrus tree payout

Despite clear frustrations of some justices, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday declined to invalidate Gov. Rick Scott’s veto of $37.4 million that lawmakers approved to compensate homeowners whose healthy citrus trees were cut down by the state more than a decade ago.

A decade ago this figure might have been unimaginable: $6,048,000.

That’s how much money the Halifax Hospital District plans to collect in property taxes next fiscal year. That’s an 88 percent drop since 2007, when tax revenues climbed to a peak of $52 million.

Board members agreed to cut the current tax rate in half this week at their bi-monthly meeting, pushing the organization closer to a goal set more than 10 years ago of collecting zero property taxes.

Florida’s citrus harvest dries up

The final forecast of the 2016-2017 season for Florida’s struggling citrus industry shows the orange crop falling 16 percent from the previous season — which, itself, had been at a five-decades low.

And after a season of severe drought, combined with the continued fight against a deadly citrus disease and the expansion of residential development, the news wasn’t any better for grapefruit farming, where production dropped 28 percent from the prior year.