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Property values up throughout Lee County

By Staff | Jun 8, 2016

For the fourth year in a row, property values in Lee County continue to increase according to the preliminary estimated Taxable Values for 2016 released late last month and that increase is 6.62 percent countywide.

“We have 91 taxing authorities in Lee County and there are no negative percentages anywhere in the county,” said Lee Property Appraiser Ken Wilkinson. “I think they will all be pleased. Of course, we have another month to work on the figures so the value could still go up some as we check for errors.”

The total taxable value on new construction countywide rose from $972.5 million in 2015 to over $1.3 billion for 2016. New construction figures in Sanibel rose from more than $13 million last year to more than $18 million this year.

“We had a surge in new construction from 2015 to 2016,” Mayor Kevin Ruane said. “I think when the economy improves more people take advantage of that.”

He said there are around 170 lots on Sanibel that are still buildable.

Wilkinson’s office faces a July 1 deadline to notify the taxing authorities of their final estimate value figures, which will then be used by government agencies to set the millage rate through two required public hearings.

Those figures also will be sent to Tallahassee for approval, but, Wilkinson said, the state has never not approved the figures. The final estimate figures will be mailed to every property owner in the form of TRIM notices in mid-August.

After the TRIM notices arrive, property owners then have 25 days to contact the appraiser’s office to appeal their taxable value if they think it is too high.

Cape Coral’s total taxable property values are up 6.64 percent over 2015. Fort Myers Beach values rose by 6.72 percent, Sanibel by 3.98 percent and Fort Myers increased by 8.44 percent.

Ruane said Sanibel did not go down 45 to 50 percent like other places did in 2007 and when considering an increase in percentage it is hard to go up as much when the decrease is not as large.

“We historically have a better percentage between June and July,” he said, adding that he believes they will be closer to 5 percent once July comes.

Ruane said the difference between Sanibel’s increase and Cape Coral and Fort Myers is those cities are still down 25 percent.

“We are in single digits. They have to make up more than 20 percent than I do,” he said.

Ruane said the percentage is kind of exactly where he thought they were going to be.

“Would I like property values to go up more, yes, (but) Sanibel values continue to rise,” he said. “We continue to be noted as a great place to come.”

The City Council will discuss a preliminary budget at its Tuesday, June 7 meeting, which Ruane said includes a budget planned around 3 and 4 percent for property values.

Among the local fire districts, Upper Captiva increased the least, just 0.25 percent, and Fort Myers Beach rose the most at 6.06 percent. Captiva Fire District increased just 0.44 percent, Matlacha-Pine Island by 5.06, North Fort Myers by 5.47 and Sanibel by 3.84 percent. Lehigh fire district opted out of the county tax roll for 2016 by passing a Fire Service Assessment tax instead.

Property values started to rise in Lee County overall three years ago while some communities still saw decreases. Most property in the county increased for 2013 with few exceptions. These last two years every city, town and taxing district in the county is seeing higher values.

The Lee County market lost half of its total value between 2007 and 2013 when the market started to turn around.

The annual process is complete when tax bills start arriving in property owners’ mailboxes in November.