So tell me: what do you think of when i say the word government?
Do you think of Washington DC? Maybe you think of your Governor in the State of Florida. Maybe you think bad thoughts. Maybe you think about Democrats. Maybe you think about Republicans.
Yes, those are all part of government. However, there is a part of government that specifically impacts your daily life. What government could I possibly be blabbering about?
Well, it’s quite possible that you live in a what we call a municipality (i.e., a little city). This municipality, along with all municipalities, have a government.
The reason that it affects your life so specifically is because the municipality that you live in has their own rules, regulations, taxes, etc.
They will literally regulate things like where you can do business, where you can live, what color your house can be, what types of parks and schools your children can go to, and other things. In terms of regulating your business, this means that they do not have to let you do business in their city if they do not like you.
Even if have everything taken care of and you’re following all the regulations, the municipality can still send out their Code Enforcement Officers to check to make sure that you are staying in compliance with all of the codes.
Now, the reality is that most of you do not even realize all of this or pay attention to it when considering to make a move to a new place. Most of you just do not thoroughly check out the local government in the place where you are choosing to live. Is it a difficult place? Do they give people a hard time?
To be frank (even though I’m Michael), some of the rules can be absolutely ludicrous. If you are thinking about opening a business, then you have to pay attention to the zoning ordinances. Every city has these zoning ordinances, which basically divides the city into regions that are specifically earmarked for certain types of activities. For example, you could have an industrial area, a commercial area, a residential area, or a mixture of all of those.
Now, let’s say you want to build a house, and you’re thinking of building a big house. Well, the zoning ordinance is going to impact you because certain-sized houses are zoned in different zoning areas.
Obviously, these are the types of things that people don’t ordinarily know or do their homework about before they decide to make a big move to a new place.
Additionally, if you are looking to do business in the city, you will need what is called a Business Tax Receipt (BTR). In order to obtain this, you would go to your city, you would pay a business tax, and then they would give you a document called a BTR. This basically authorizes you to do business in that particular municipality.
However, for example, if a lawyer wanted to work out of his/her house in that particular city, they would not issue him/her a BTR because they are not allowed to work or have an office in a residentially zoned area. And you are probably asking yourself, “How would they even know? How would they enforce that? That would not apply to me.”
HA! Guess what: word will get around. Eventually, you get a knock at your door, and you meet the ever so gracious Code Compliance Officer who subsequently hands you a violation. And now you have to deal with it in a way that is similar to dealing with a traffic ticket, or really any kind of criminal matter. In this case, you could be subject to fines and your property could be subject to liens if you do not comply with code enforcement instructions.
Another example of this is that you purchase a house and you decide that you want to paint it green. Realistically, there are a lot of municipalities that, when you go to apply for your permit to paint your house, they will tell you green is unacceptable.
They say, “We do not allow green.”
You say, “How can you not allow green?”
They say, “Well, because we are the city and we can make the rules.”
Unfortunately, there is a lot of truth behind this. Most municipalities will have a city council or a city commission, and this will be headed by the Mayor. Every municipality has different amounts of commissioners or council people. These people are the ones who make the laws for that municipality. Once those laws are made and passed into law, and you end up getting charged with violating an ordinance, then you are pretty much screwed.
For example, I was down in the city of Miami and one of the people before me in court were being charged with illegal dumping … Yes, illegal dumping. This is when garbage goes on a piece of land that is not supposed to be garbage dump. The lady is crying and screaming at the Hearing Officer saying, “I did not dump that stuff and it was not my property.” This literally went back and forth until the Hearing Officer finally said, “Okay, you are off the hook.”
However, before you get any ideas, this does not always happen. What I am recommending for all of you, since we all move from place to place and from time to time, is to do a little research before you finally decide on a place where you might want to move.
You would research the municipality’s government, what kind of council people they have, who the mayor is, what their zoning ordinances say, what their code ordinances, and other things along those lines.
Every municipality has a code of ordinances, and those code of ordinances set out the rules and regulations for living in that particular jurisdiction. You should check those out to see what they do and do not allow for. Maybe they do not allow you to walk your dog at seven o’clock at night. Unfortunately, they have the power to do that. So, it is imperative that you do your homework on these things.
This has been just a basic overview of how our lives can be directly impacted by the place in which we choose to live. Unfortunately, a lot of us choose the place we want to live in before we even know what rules, regulations, and governing body we are going to be subject to. And this is exactly why you need to check it out first.