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Cape property values dip another 4.87 percent

By Staff | Jun 2, 2011

Preliminary numbers released by Property Appraiser Ken Wilkinson on Wednesday estimate that Lee County’s taxable values decreased by 5.29 percent in 2010.
Cape Coral saw a 4.87 percent decrease in values, according to Wilkinson’s office.
City staff were previously predicting a decrease of 6 percent in values for this next budget cycle. While the decrease was less than expected, the city still is facing nearly $3.5 million in ad valorem reductions, according to city spokeswoman Connie Barron.
Wilkinson said the county has lost 50 percent of its total value since the boom days of 2005, but has likely found “truth in millage” as the county’s 91 taxing authorities now work on setting their various millage rates.
Wilkinson also said he doesn’t anticipate too much change between estimated and final values, due to the state by July 1.
“All these years I’ve never seen more than a 1 percent change,” Wilkinson added.
Mayor John Sullivan said he didn’t want to speculate on what the values will mean to the budget process as he has yet to see next year’s proposed budget.
Sullivan pointed out the school resource officer program as an area where the city could save money.
Sullivan said he would have a hard time supporting the program if the school board doesn’t increase their efforts, or pay for the program in total.
“I think we’re going to try for cuts in various places … but it’s a juggling act because we want to maintain the same level of service,” Sullivan said. “It’s an oxymoron to some degree.”
Councilman Kevin McGrail said it was important for the council to weigh the importance of everything during this year’s budget cycle, but feels the SRO program is something that should continued to be supported by council.
“They are a vital asset to our community … there’s probably other things we need to look at first,” McGrail said.
Expecting a 6 to 8 percent decrease, McGrail said he was encouraged by the numbers.
He doubts council has the “wherewithal” to raise taxes next budget year but senses that values will start to stabilize soon.
“The fact we’ve been able to sense a real floor under these values is encouraging,” he added.
Fort Myers values decreased by 6.97 percent; Sanibel saw 1.16 percent decline in values; Bonita Springs’ values decreased 5.83 percent; Fort Myers Beach values decreased 6.7 percent, according to the estimates released Wednesday.