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Consumer Alert:

08/15/2008

CFO Sink Creates “Financial Action Team”

 

 

CONTACT:  Tara Klimek
850-413-2842 

Broad coalition will identify funds available from federal foreclosure assistance legislation
TALLAHASSEE—In an effort to increase the amount of aid to Floridians facing economic crisis, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink today announced she has created a “Financial Action Team” to identify federal assistance available to our state.  Comprised of a broad array of financial and housing stakeholders, CFO Sink’s Financial Action Team will analyze the recently passed Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 to maximize Florida’s share of the billions in available federal dollars to help taxpayers weather a range of economic challenges.
“We are facing an economic and housing crisis, and the federal government has made billions of dollars in assistance available to benefit homeowners,” said CFO Sink, who oversees the Department of Financial Services.  “As Florida’s Chief Financial Officer representing a state with one of the highest rates of foreclosure and numbers of lost jobs, I want to make sure our taxpayers get their fair share of help.”
RealtyTrac's July 2008 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report stated that Florida had the second highest number of foreclosures in the nation, posting 45,884 foreclosures in July 2008—a 14 percent increase from the previous month.  Florida’s foreclosure rate was the third-highest in the country, with one foreclosure for every 186 households. 
The Agency for Workforce Innovation (AWI)  Friday reported a 6.1 percent unemployed rate, the highest since January 1995.  Florida lost 96,800 jobs during the previous year, and has reported negative growth over the previous year since September 2007, which AWI attributes to a decline in construction.
These economic challenges are compounded when Florida’s taxpayers aren’t receiving their fair share of benefits.  According to TaxWatch, Florida has lost billions in federal funding due to a failure to identify, document and leverage these resources. 

“The value of educating citizens, businesses and government officials on what federal funds, tax incentives and services are available to Florida under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 cannot be overstated,” said Dominic Calabro, President and Chief Executive Officer of Florida TaxWatch.  “Florida TaxWatch is proud to work with CFO Sink on this crucial effort, and I believe the Financial Action Team will improve taxpayer value and ensure the safety and prosperity of countless Floridians.”
The Financial Action Team will hold its first meeting in early September, and in preparation for the meeting, members are expected to evaluate the Housing and Economic Recovery Act from their stakeholders’ perspective and report on the benefits available to Floridians.  Members will also identify and report on the process by which a citizen can apply for and receive these federal benefits. 
The Financial Action Team will reconvene in late September to develop thorough outreach efforts to educate Floridians about the federal benefits for which they are eligible.
CFO Sink’s Financial Action Team includes representatives from the following organizations:
• Florida Bankers Association
• Florida Credit Union League
• Florida Housing Finance Corporation
• Florida Association of Realtors
• Florida Legal Services
• Florida League of Cities
• Florida Association of Counties
• Department of Veterans’ Affairs
• City of West Palm Beach
• Florida Tax Watch
• Florida Association of Mortgage Brokers
• Department of Financial Services
All meetings of the Financial Action Team will be announced and open to the public.

As a statewide elected officer of the Florida Cabinet, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink oversees the Department of Financial Services, a multi-division state agency responsible for management of state funds and unclaimed property, assisting consumers who request information and help related to financial services, and investigating financial fraud. CFO Sink also serves as the State Fire Marshal.