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Property values in Cape continue to climb

By Staff | Jul 5, 2017

As has been the case over the past several years, Cape Coral property values continue to trend upwards. Since the Lee County Property Appraiser’s office re-vealed its estimated values for 2017 in May, the preliminary values released over the weekend crept up another 1.7 percent in the Cape to 9.57 percent higher than last year’s values.

That’s five straight years of increasing value for city property owners, which also translates to more revenue for governmental agencies to consider in the final stages of preparing budgets for Fiscal Year 2017.

These preliminary value numbers allow Property Appraiser Ken Wilkinson to calculate a rollback millage rate so the county’s 91 taxing authorities will know the rate at which they will receive about the same amount of revenue as the previous year. It also indicates to taxpayers which agencies are raising taxes and by how much.

“I’m not surprised by the increases,” said Wilkinson. “There’s a reason its called an estimate and that’s for the taxing authorities to use for their budgets. We have another month of work to do. You always expect an increase from estimate to preliminary numbers. That’s fairly typical.”

Taxing authorities don’t have to take all of the increase by rolling back the millage rate as they finalize their budgets. City Council-member Rana Erbrick has stated publicly that the increased values should be enough to make the city consider rolling back its millage rate.

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

The city and other taxing authorities use the preliminary values to certify back to the appraiser’s office the millage rate they want to use before the TRIM notices go out in mid-August. The city will schedule two public hearings to set the millage rate and approve the operating budget. Fiscal Year 2017 starts on Oct. 1.

Countywide, property values have increased 8.94 percent over last year, which includes all commercial and industrial properties as well as residential.

Sanibel’s preliminary property values increased another .30 percent to 6.17 percent for 2017 and Fort Myers Beach is up another 1.67 percent to 6.50 percent. Among the area’s fire districts, Lehigh’s preliminary values are now up 11.42 percent. Matlacha-Pine Island values are up 7.10 percent and North Fort Myers 6.55 percent. Values in the Sanibel Fire District rose 6.02 percent while Captiva and Upper Captiva rose 3.85 and 10.04 percent, respectively.

“The pressure’s off now,” said Wilkinson. “We added another $197 million in taxable value on one parcel alone for FP&L (Florida Power & Light).”

The total taxable value on new construction in the Cape has risen to just over $290.5 million. New construction countywide is now over $1.60 billion.

Wilkinson’s office is in the process of sending the preliminary valuation numbers to Tallahassee for approval – he has never had numbers not be approved – and being prepared to mail to every property owner in the form of TRIM notices in August. Property owners then have 25 days to resolve any disagreement in value with the property appraiser.

Property values started to rise in Lee County overall four years ago while some communities still saw decreases. Most property in the county increased for 2013 with few exceptions. Over the last four years every city, town and taxing district in the county has seen increasing 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. Taxpayers then have five months to pay their bill with a discount.