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Property valuation up more than 8 percent in the Cape

By Staff | Jun 28, 2016

Property tax valuation in Cape Coral has increased by 8.37 percent over 2015, according to Lee County Property Appraiser Ken Wilkinson, who on Monday released the preliminary value figures that he will send to Tallahassee for state approval.

The 8.37 percent increase for the Cape is 1.73 percent higher than his office’s estimated values that were sent out at the end of May. That figure is more than 0.6 percent higher than the city’s final value increase of 7.75 percent last year.

According to the city’s Finance Department, an 8.37 percent increase in property tax values will generate $1,637,261 in additional revenue if the city uses the same millage rate as last year.

Appraisers found that overall in Lee County taxable valuation has risen by 8.51 percent, which includes all commercial and industrial properties as well as residential.

The total taxable value on new construction countywide rose from $972.5 million in 2015 to over $1.4 billion for 2016. New construction figures in Cape Coral was $145 million last year and that rose to more than $189 million for 2016.

It’s the fourth year in a row that Lee County has seen values increase overall for its 91 taxing authorities. Those taxing authorities will now prepare their Fiscal Year 2017 budgets and certify the millage rate with Wilkinson’s office, which then will send out TRIM notices in August.

“It’s a good sound economy right now, but you never know what will happen between now and January,” said Wilkinson. “You don’t know what will happen on the micro stage like the other day in England, what that might do to it.”

City of Fort Myers property valuation increased by 10.16 percent, which is second highest behind Bonita Springs which saw a 10.28 percent hike over last year. Sanibel property tax valuation rose by 5.48 percent this year after rising by just 3.98 percent in 2015. Fort Myers Beach saw an increase of 8.29 percent for 2016.

Among the county’s fire districts, Fort Myers Shores saw the biggest jump in valuation of 14.24 percent. Upper Captiva Fire District saw the least increase at 2.98 percent. Captiva Fire District will see a 3.68 percent increase while Sanibel valuation is up 5.33 percent. Matlacha Fire District valuation is up 6.61 percent increase and North Fort Myers’ valuation rose 7.23 percent.

“I’ve never had an assessment refused by Tallahassee,” Wilkinson said. “They run their own statistical analysis and even physically go out to a number of parcels for their own audit.”

Of course, Wilkinson said, taxing authorities don’t have to take all of the increase by rolling back the millage rate to receive about the same amount as they did last year.

Cape Coral cut its property tax rate by .75 mils for its 2016 budget after promising to do so after creating the Fire Service Assessment.

Once taxing authorities certify their millage rate with the county, they can’t go any higher but can go lower.

Once the TRIM notices are mailed to property owners in August, they will have 25 days to resolve any disagreement in value with the property appraiser.

“No one ever has come into the office and said their tax bill was too low,” quipped Wilkinson. “It’s an opportunity for the public to appeal the appraisal or anything they think affects their tax bill.”

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

Property values started to rise in the county four years ago with a few communities still seeing decreases. Most property in the county increased for 2013 with few exceptions. Since 2014 every city, town and taxing district in the county saw higher valuations as the market continued to stabilize.

The annual process is complete when tax bills start arriving in mailboxes in November. Taxpayers then have five months to pay their bill with a discount.