Volume 4 Number 50
December 14, 2007

Fellow Floridian:

During this holiday season, Florida Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Alex Sink is urging consumers to be cautious when using holiday lights and candles. Did you know the number of candle fires doubles during the holiday season? In fact, candles alone have caused more than 900 fires, at least four fatalities, and more than $12 million in damages over the past few years.

Fires can be deadly, but they can also be prevented. Below are a few tips for you to remember as you enjoy the holiday festivities.

  • Make sure artificial trees are fire resistant.

  • Keep candles away from trees, wreaths and other decorations. 

  • Water live trees daily to slow the drying process.

  • Don’t let tree lights touch needles or curtains. 

  • Make sure lights are Underwriters Laboratories (UL) approved and that the wires are in good condition.

  • Be sure to turn lights out before you go to bed or leave the house

  • Remember - before you go out, blow out!


 

The IRS Ruling

IRS GRANTS CFO SINK’S REQUEST THAT MSFH GRANTS NOT BE SUBJECT TO FEDERAL INCOME TAX

Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced grants awarded to homeowners through the My Safe Florida Home (MSFH) program will not be reported as taxable income to the federal government.

CFO Sink made the announcement after receiving a Letter Ruling from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) stating that MSFH grants will be excluded from “gross incomes for federal income tax purposes.”

“Floridians taking personal responsibility to harden their homes and receive a grant from the My Safe Florida Home program shouldn’t be hit with an additional tax bill in January 2008,” said CFO Sink, who runs the Department of Financial Services and the MSFH program. “I commend the IRS for granting our request that mitigation grants should not be considered part of a homeowner’s income.” CONTINUED
 

 
 
 
 
 
 

Dominic Calabro, CFO Sink and  Mike Jennings at the TaxWatch gathering.

 

CFO TALKS TO TAX WATCH

CFO Sink on Wednesday joined Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp and House Speaker Marco Rubio as a speaker before nearly 200 members of Florida TaxWatch, a private, non-profit, non-partisan research institute that in the past 25 years has developed a reputation as a watchdog of citizens′ tax dollars. The meeting was held in Palm Beach.

The CFO said Florida’s anticipated revenue shortfall of $2.5 billion this fiscal year and next presents an opportunity to create more efficiencies in state government by taking advantage of purchasing power and economies of scale. “I think millions can be saved by managing dollars more efficiently,” she said.

CONTINUED


 

CFO SINK ADDRESSES COUNCIL OF CEOs IN TAMPA



About 100 CEOs from throughout Tampa Bay attended a breakfast Thursday morning where CFO Sink spoke about Florida’s economy. Her optimistic outlook garnered several laughs and a hearty round of applause from the audience, all members of the Council of CEOs of Tampa Bay.

She said the real estate downturn and mortgage fallout has left Florida in a “real estate recession,” but that Florida has a history of surviving and thriving. She said the current downturn is “like the python eating the chicken, it just going to take a while.”


 

 

LETTER FROM CFO SINK TO THE MEMBERS OF THE STATE BOARD OF ADMINISTRATION AUDIT COMMITTEE

December 10, 2007

Ms. Melinda Miguel
Chief Inspector General, Office of the Chief Inspector General
Executive Office of the Governor, PL 05, The Capitol
400 South Monroe Street, Tallahassee, FL 32399

Mr. Douglas Darling
Division of Accounting and Auditing, Director, Department of Financial Services
200 East Gaines Street Fletcher Building, Suite 516, Tallahassee, FL 32399

Ms. Kimberly Ferrell
Chief Auditor, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, Office of the Attorney General
PL 01, The Capitol, 400 South Monroe Street, Tallahassee, FL 32399-1050

<<SENT VIA HAND DELIVERY>>

Dear Ms. Miguel, Mr. Darling and Ms. Ferrell:

The growing national subprime mortgage crisis, a lack of investor confidence and inadequate transparency led to the recent instability of a state-managed investment pool. Managed by the State Board of Administration (SBA), the Local Government Investment Pool (LGIP) is a short-term investment fund used by a number of counties, school boards, and other government entities in Florida, which have relied on the pool’s stability and liquidity for nearly twenty-five years. CONTINUED


CFO MEETS WITH STATE ATTORNEY MARK OBER

While in the Tampa area on Thursday, CFO Sink met with Mark Ober, State Attorney for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit in Hillsborough County. As CFO, Sink oversees two law enforcement agencies, the Division of Insurance Fraud and the Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations in the Division of State Fire Marshal. Ober’s office will be adding a dedicated prosecutor and paralegal in the coming year, which will allow for more prosecutions of financial and insurance fraud crimes investigated by the department, and the two talked about some of the latest trends in fraud cases.

Sink and Ober also discussed the department’s plans to create an investigator academy to help train new insurance fraud and arson investigators, and discussed how Ober’s office might be able to assist with the training program.

Ober’s office is one of the busiest in the state, prosecuting 94,000 cases last year.


 

CFO SINK CONVENES FINANCIAL LITERACY COUNCIL MEETING

CFO Sink convened the seventh meeting of the Financial Literacy Council on Wednesday.  During the conference call, the council announced they will partner with other groups to create Florida Saves – a statewide campaign that will promote saving, reducing debt, and building wealth.  Florida Saves Week is set to take place February 24 – March 2.  The council also set a meeting schedule for 2008 and decided to hold town hall meetings and other events around the state during Financial Literacy Month in April.
 
CFO Sink has created a Web site dedicated to the Financial Literacy Council, its duties, appointments, and upcoming meetings. Floridians who would like to learn more about the council are encouraged to visit the Web site at http://www.MyFloridaMoney.com.