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Cape sees tax rolls increase once again

By Staff | May 31, 2018

Taxable property valuations in Cape Coral are up again.

The city saw its just, assessed and taxable tax roll values increase last year, according to the preliminary valuations sent out late Thursday by the Lee County Property Appraisers office.

Just value improved by 3.95 percent to $21.162 billion, up $804.5 million from last year. Assessed value grew 7.61 percent to $17.607 billion, up $1.24 billion from 2017, and taxable value – a key number for government entities – was up 8.09 percent to $14.261 billion, an increase of $1.06 billion.

The taxable valuation percentage was above the 5.33 percent increase for all Lee County. Lee County was up 6.56 percent in 2016.

Property Appraiser Kenneth Wilkinson said the increase was one of the largest and continues a trend that is bringingvalues back to where they were in 2007, just before the crash.

“I like where we’re at. I don’t have the concern I had in 2007 regarding a bubble. We still have a lot of cash sales and skin in the game instead of just buying and flipping,” Wilkinson said. “It’s a good, strong market, so I think we can just settle in and arrange for the next few years.”

Wilkinson has been watching three issues that could have an impact on future values: flooding and seawall damage from Hurricane Irma and the “sludge issue” in Fort Myers and the properties affected by the dumping of chemical sludge on a city-owned property in a neighborhood in the 1950s.

“We haven’t come to a conclusion on those issues yet,” Wilkinson said. “We’re getting closer on (Irma). The public will help out when they call in.”

Cape Coral City Manager John Szerlag said he was pleased by the numbers, as he had used a 5 percent increase in his preliminary budget.

“It’s always good to see the city growing at a sustainable pace. It will help out General Fund budget this fiscal year,” Szerlag said.

This is the sixth straight year value of property has increased in the city. Last year, the taxable valuation was up 9.57 percent. In recent years, the increase in valuation has resulted in a millage decrease.

Another property tax decrease was planned last year until Hurricane Irma and the costs of cleanup and property damage scuttled that idea.

The current millage rate is 6.750 mills, or $6.75 in taxes for every $1,000 in taxable value.

Szerlag said he would have to speak with department directors to determine if that will be the case.

“I need to see what our revenue projections are and the expenditures and we’ll be happy to advise from there,” Szerlag said.

The final valuation numbers will be released on or before July 1.

Wilkinson said those final numbers tend to be at, or a little better, than the preliminary ones.

Final figures are sent to Tallahassee for state approval.

Wilkinson said he has never had an assessment declined by the state. His office will also compute the rollback mill rate for each district or municipality.

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

Editor’s: Note: This story has been updated to include comment from Lee County Property Appraiser Ken Wilkinson.