Survey Highlights Customer Service, Savings, & Ease of Mitigation Program
Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink released survey results from Floridians participating in the My Safe Florida Home (MSFH) program showing 97 percent of homeowners rate the application process as easy or somewhat easy, 80 percent rate their overall experience as excellent or good, and 82 percent of respondents say they are willing to recommend the program to neighbors as hurricane season draws closer.
“One year ago, we reorganized the My Safe Florida Home program to help Floridians harden their homes against hurricane damage,” said CFO Sink. “I’m pleased that hundreds of thousands of Floridians are working with the program to build a culture of mitigation in our state.”
The My Safe Florida Home program, re-launched by Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink in April 2007, has provided more than 214,100 free wind inspections to Floridians. Participating homeowners receive a wind inspection report, which suggests ways homeowners can harden their homes against storm damage and informs homeowners if they are currently eligible to save money on their wind insurance premiums.
More than 60 percent of homeowners receiving free wind
inspections have learned they are already eligible for an
average savings of $226 and 34 percent of respondents report
taking advantage of these savings—without making a single
improvement. Floridians whose homes have received free wind
inspections from the MSFH program may also be eligible to
apply, on a first come, first served basis, for matching
tax-free grants of up to $5,000 to make improvements to
their homes. To date, the MSFH program has given 5,769
homeowners grants totaling more than $19.2 million, with an
additional 26,973 homeowners currently working with the
program to make improvements. MSFH may meet the 35,000
statutory grant goal as early as May 2008 and reports 81
percent good or excellent ratings from participants.
Floridians in single-family, site-built homes are eligible for a free wind inspection performed by a qualified hurricane mitigation inspector. Properties not eligible for free wind inspections include mobile and manufactured homes, apartments, condominiums, multi-family dwellings and businesses. The MSFH program has also partnered with local governments and the Volunteer Florida Foundation to offer low-income homeowners an opportunity to strengthen their homes against natural disasters.
The inspection survey was sent to 19,795 participants with a response rate of 23 percent (4,636). For more information, please visit www.MySafeFloridaHome.com or contact the program toll-free at 1(866) 513-MSFH (6734). Complete survey results available upon request.
CFO ADDRESSES BLUE KEY IN GAINESVILLE; IS INDUCTED AS AN HONORARY MEMBER
CFO SINK CELEBRATES FLORIDA HISTORY FAIR DAYS AND CLAY COUNTY SESQUICENTENNIAL
CFO Alex Sink welcomed Clay County Schools’ 41 Florida History Fair competitors, middle and high school students, to Tallahassee for Florida History Fair Days May 1-3, 2008. The CFO spoke to the students about the importance of history and its ongoing role in government and public service. Clay County celebrates its sesquicentennial—150th birthday in December 2008.
The CFO also talked with the group about the importance of financial literacy and learning to manage their money now as they prepare for college. She encouraged the group to consider the diversity of jobs available in public service and include those opportunities in planning for their careers.
More than 850 middle and high school students will be competing in Tallahassee to represent Florida at the National History Fair Competition in Washington, D.C. in June. The competition is being held at Tallahassee Community College and is open to the public from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. on May 2, 2008, where hundreds of entries will be on display. Approximately 30,000 students in 25 counties participated in local and county level competitions, narrowing the field to those competing this week in our state’s Capitol.
CFO SINK ENCOURAGES FLORIDA HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS TO PARTICIPATE IN 2008 NATIONAL FINANCIAL LITERACY CHALLENGE
Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink today encouraged Florida high school students and teachers to participate in the 2008 National Financial Literacy Challenge (NFLC), available online until May 16, 2008. The President Advisory Council on Financial Literacy prompted the U.S. Department of Treasury to encourage financial literacy education among students by enacting the NFLC competition.
“Financial literacy education is essential for our high school students to be prepared with the necessary knowledge to be successful in life,” said CFO Sink. “I encourage Florida’s high school teachers to register their students for this exciting and important national challenge.”
Florida high school students at least 13 years of age are eligible to participate in a 35-question financial literacy test, as part of a national challenge aimed at raising awareness about financial literacy education.
Participants scoring in the top 25th percentile will receive national recognition from the federal government and the top scores will win the NFLC challenge award.
The test is available at no cost online at http://FLC.treas.gov/teacher. High school teachers must first register their class at the above link before their students are eligible to participate.
CFO Sink has long been a strong proponent of financial literacy, and oversees Florida’s Financial Literacy Council. Through regional outreach coordinators, her Department of Financial Services (DFS) aggressively educates consumers in their local communities on topics such as the wise use of credit cards, identity theft, hurricane preparedness, small business security, life insurance policies and first-time homebuyer workshops. During 2007, DFS conducted more than 2,680 outreach events around the state.
For more information on CFO’s financial literacy efforts or the Financial Literacy Council, please visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com.
CFO SINK'S OFFICE PARTICIPATES IN NATIONAL MEETING ON CLIMATE RISK TO FLORIDA'S COASTS
The group talked about lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina, and the need for Floridians to take steps to harden their homes against hurricanes and the sea level rise associated with climate change. The Resilient Coasts working group will meet again this year to develop an action plan and policy recommendations for coastal communities.
Kathy Baughman McLeod represented CFO Alex Sink as a panelist in
an insurance workshop titled Models Wanted : How insurance
catastrophe models can help business and government plan for climate
Climate change brings a wide array of geographic risks, from sea level rise to drought. While the public and private sector are working more than ever to limit the extent of climate change, business and government are increasingly aware that some degree of climate change is inevitable and will pose increasing risks to populations and investments.
With representatives from insurance, reinsurance, cat modeling, banking and government, the workshop explored how different sectors are preparing for climate change, including emerging adaptation models that combine traditional catastrophe models with climate data. These new models not only characterize risk under existing conditions, they also test adaptation options--including infrastructure investments, building codes and land use scenarios--and are increasingly in demand in both the public and private sectors.
Money-Smart Idea of the Week
Idea: How to Save Money on Gas
With the high price of
fuel these days, many people have had to stretch their budgets to
get around. There are ways to get better gas efficiency by making a
few changes in your habits.
Maintain your car properly. A vehicle that runs smoothly uses less gas than one that is poorly maintained. Regular oil changes, air filter and other recommended maintenance will help to give you a fuel-efficient vehicle. Keep your tires properly inflated; it will make a difference in your fuel economy.
Improve your driving habits.
Carpool to work; take turns driving to save gas.
Don't drive during rush hour. Traffic jams and stop-and-go driving are easy ways to waste gas.
Minimize idling. One of the worst offenders, idling gets zero miles per gallon. If you are going to idle for a minute or less, leave your car on, but longer than a minute turn your car off.
Drive more slowly. Driving the speed limit is more fuel efficient than speeding.
Accelerate and brake easily. Driving aggressively is bad for fuel economy, especially fast starts and hard braking.
Use cruise control. It has been proven to save gas as it reduces heavy acceleration and heavy use of the brake. A steady driving speed will improve fuel economy.
Group errands together. Run all of your errands in one day, and plan an efficient route to minimize driving.
Remove excess weight. Driving with more stuff in your car drags the car down and requires more fuel so lighten your load.
Don’t top off your gas tank. Putting in more after the tank is full is a waste of gas.
Park in the shade. A hot car evaporates gas and more gas is used to cool down a hot car.
Don't buy hot gas. Buy gas when it is cool during the morning or evening hours; hot gas expands and you will end up with less in your tank.
For more financial savings tips click here: http://www.myfloridamoney.com/FLSaves.htm
IRS RELEASES STIMULUS PAYMENTS AND PAYMENT SCHEDULE
Transfers of economic stimulus payments began this week for Americans who specified the money be delivered by direct deposit to their bank accounts, officials at the Internal Revenue Service announced.
The first paper checks will be mailed starting May 9. People who chose direct deposit will receive their economic stimulus payments the quickest.
The IRS is issuing payments of up to $600 ($1,200 for married couples) plus $300 for eligible children younger than 17, throughout the spring and summer. The first wave of payments will go to people who opted for direct deposit on their 2007 income tax returns.
There are many people who are eligible for an economic
stimulus payment who have not yet filed a tax return. IRS officials
indicated that retirees, disabled veterans and others who normally do not
file a tax return still have until Oct. 15 to submit a 2007 return to
receive a stimulus payment this year. Individuals who have no tax
filing requirement but who have at least $3,000 in qualifying income should
file Form 1040A. Qualifying income includes any combination of earned
income, nontaxable combat pay or certain payments from Social Security,
Veterans Affairs and Railroad Retirement. Use direct deposit to get your
The sequence of payment deliveries is being done according to the last two digits of the individual's Social Security number. For direct deposits, if your number ends in 00 to 20, the funds should be transmitted to your bank by May 2, provided your 2007 tax return was filed and the IRS processed it prior to April 15. All such transfers should be made by May 16.
Paper checks will be distributed from May through July according to a similar schedule. Individuals who did not submit a return in time for it to be processed by April 15 may see their stimulus payments later than the scheduled dates, the IRS said.
STIMULUS PAYMENT SCHEDULE
Direct Deposit Payments:
If the last two digits of your Social Security number are, your economic stimulus payment deposit should be transmitted to your bank account by:
00 – 20 May 2
21 – 75 May 9
76 – 99 May 16
If the last two digits of your Social Security number are, your check should be in the mail by:
00 – 09 May 16
10 – 18 May 23
19 – 25 May 30
26 – 38 June 6
39 – 51 June 13
52 – 63 June 20
64 – 75 June 27
76 – 87 July 4
88 – 99 July 11