My Florida C F O

Dear Fellow Floridians:

As the Fourth of July draws closer, it’s once again time to talk about fireworks safety. Many of your Independence Day festivities are synonymous with backyard fireworks displays, and as always, I encourage you to celebrate safely. Fireworks display silhouetteEach year we read about life-changing accidents that result from family fun gone horribly wrong. No one starts a holiday hoping for disaster, but it can happen faster than you think.

In order to keep your family as safe as possible, exercise common sense and safety. First and foremost, never mix fireworks with alcohol. Use only approved products, and use them only as directed. If you need help determining what’s allowed in Florida, here’s a lengthy list of those approved for your family’s use.

Here are a couple of other safety tips to keep in mind:

Contact local officials. Confirm whether or not your community is under a burn ban due to dry conditions. Florida has seen its share of rain in recent weeks, but there are still parts of the state suffering from drought.

Look for a public show. Many cities put on professional and family-friendly fireworks shows. Consider attending this year in support of your local government.

Have a plan. Keep a bucket full of water nearby and know where the closest hose is located. Have your fire extinguisher on hand.

Control your surroundings. Light fireworks only on sand, concrete or other non-flammable surfaces, away from brush, trash or other objects that could catch fire.

  • Never give fireworks to young children, as they reach temperatures between 1,300 and 1,800 degrees, which is at least 200 degrees hotter than a standard butane lighter.
  • Keep pets indoors and away from all flammable objects.
  • Light only one item at a time and never attempt to re-light.

The National Fire Protection Association estimates that emergency rooms across the country treated almost 12,000 fireworks-related injuries during 2015. More than 25 percent of those injuries were to children younger than 15.

If you’re in South Florida, maybe I’ll see you at a local fireworks show. If you do, I hope you’ll say hello. In my opinion, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Sincerely,

Jeff
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida



Returning Long-Lost Treasures to Floridians

Unclaimed Property Division Director Walter Graham guest-authored a column in our latest edition of Florida's Bottom Line that focuses on Florida's unclaimed property program. Here is an excerpt:

Walter Graham, Unclaimed Property DirectorEvery state in the nation has an unclaimed property program, but Florida is proud to boast a nationally-recognized, recordbreaking Division of Unclaimed Property. Florida’s unclaimed property program has returned more than $1.6 billion via 2.5 million individual claims during the last six years., representing cash put back in the pockets of hard-working Floridians, many of whom did not know they had lost track of any financial accounts. Without any new government programs, taxes or expenses, that’s an economic stimulus package all on its own.

Unclaimed Property is defined as a financial asset that is unknown or lost, or that has been left inactive, unclaimed or abandoned by its owner. The most common types of unclaimed property are dormant bank accounts; unclaimed insurance proceeds, uncashed stocks, payroll checks; utility deposits; credit balances and refunds. Unclaimed property also includes contents from abandoned safe deposit boxes in financial institutions. Unclaimed property is held by businesses, banks, or government entities for up to five years after which the property becomes "dormant" or "owed." If the holder is unable to re-establish contact with the owner and return the asset in those five years, it is remitted to the Division, where we maintain these unclaimed accounts so that you or your heirs can claim what is rightfully owed — indefinitely. If not for unclaimed property programs, nearly all unclaimed funds would remain the property of the businesses and government entities that previously held the accounts, and therefore, most recipients would never reclaim what rightfully belongs to them. Proactivity is part of what makes Florida’s program so successful.

Read more from Walter Graham in the current edition of Florida's Bottom Line. A one-stop shop for the latest news and valuable insight on Florida's economy and financial health, Florida's Bottom Line is CFO Atwater's award-winning quarterly economic magazine and website.

Florida Economic Briefs

Personal Income Grows in Florida
Personal income, a measure of before-tax income, grew by 1.3 percent in Florida in the first quarter of 2017. Florida was tied for second highest growth rate among states, behind only Idaho and ahead of the national average growth rate of 1.0 percent.
Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Real Estate Market Picks Up
Sales of single family homes grew to 27,850 in May. This represents a growth of 7.6 percent over the previous year, and 16.9 percent over April. The median sale price also increase by 7.7 percent over the prior year, bringing it to $239,000.
Source: Florida Realtor’s Association