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Property owners set to get TRIM tax notices

By Staff | Aug 20, 2011

Lee County property owners can expect to receive their tax notices in the mail soon, as Property Appraiser Ken Wilkinson’s office sent the ‘TRIM” notices out Friday.

Taxpayers also can expect to see a bit of a break in assessed valuation as property values slid an additional 3.46 percent countywide in 2010.

TRIM – or Truth in Millage – notices outline several things including the property’s assessed value; its taxable value less any exemptions; and what the likely tax bill will be if taxing entities leave rates unchanged, implement the millage rate at the maximum level set within the last few weeks, or opt to go the “rollback” rate, the rate needed to raise the same amount of revenue.

The notices are not tax bills.

For those who think the assessed value is set too high, they have 25 days to petition Wilkinson’s office in person, though the mail, or over the phone.

Taxpayers will be paired with the analysts who did the actual assessment work on their property, Wilkinson said.

“Once they get their notice they’ll look at their value and if they have a problem with that, it’s our responsibility to explain how we arrived at the value,” Wilkinson said.

Residents have 25 days to get the answers they need, but if they still are not happy, they also have the right to petition an independent value adjustment board, and then have a hearing with a special master.

Tax rate issues are a different matter.

There are 88 separate taxing authorities in Lee County – the most of any county in the state of Florida -and Wilkinson said the Property Appraiser’s office has no control over the millage rates set by those authorities.

Wilkinson said his office can only let taxpayers know when public hearings are set for those agencies so property owners can voice their opinions as to rates.

“They may want to pay attention to those authorities that affect them,” Wilkinson said.

Cape Coral set its millage rate cap at 7.8702 mills, a slight decline over the existing rate.

Cape Coral City Council cannot exceed the cap but can choose to lower it further.

A mill is $1 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

Lee County is the fourth largest county in the state of Florida with 610,000 property owners set to receive their bills.

All notices will tell property owners the value of their property as of Jan. 1 of this year.

Actual tax bills will go out in the fall no later than Nov. 1.

Wilkinson said his office is both highly accountable, and transparent, throughout the appraisal process.