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Cape property valuations up 7.96%

By Staff | Jul 3, 2019

Traditionally, the preliminary property valuations in Lee County tend to be conservative. In the case of Cape Coral, they were very much so.

The Lee County Property Appraiser’s Office released its tax rolls this weekend and the city saw its overall taxable valuation increase by 7.96 percent. This is higher than the 6.48 percent estimate announced on June 1, and much closer to the 8.49 percent increase in 2018 and the 9.57 percent boost the year before that.

Overall taxable property valuation was adjusted upward to $15.439 billion from the $15.227 billion of a month ago. That is up from the $14.3 billion of 2017 but still short of the $21.7 billion in overall valuation in 2007, before the market wiped out 55 percent of property values.

By 2010, city property taxable valuation came in at $8.5 billion.

Connie Barron, assistant city manager, said the numbers are not surprising, and staff will figure out how to utilize the new money.

“We expected to see a slight increase in our taxable values from the Property Appraiser’s original estimate a month ago. The overall increase of 7.96 percent will provide about $4.5 million in additional property tax revenue over our estimate,” Barron said in an e-mail. “How these funds will be utilized will be determined during our ongoing budget planning process.”

What this will mean for City Manager John Szerlag’s proposed budget, which applies a revenue diversification approach that combines property taxes, a tax on electric bills and a fire services assessment, remains to be seen.

The city is still several weeks away from the finalizing a budget with the working document expected by midmonth.

“The city manager will be finalizing his proposed budget by mid-July. He will consider the funding needs of the city and how available revenues can be utilized to meet those needs,” Barron said.

Currently, the city millage sits at 6.75 mills, the same as it has the past three years. One mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 of taxable valuation.

The Fire Service Assessment is at 62 percent of recovery costs, while the Public Service Tax is 7 percent.

The numbers that come out on July 1 are almost always higher than the estimates on June .

Fort Myers Shores was the only place where they were lower, according to Ken Wilkinson, Lee County Property Appraiser.

“Between the estimate and the preliminary, there’s another month of work that needs to get done. The preliminary numbers reflect that month’s work,” Wilkinson said. “The last few years we had double digit gains. The last two years the markets have softened a little, but I like when they come in the mid-single digits. It allows government to do planning.”

The numbers had suggested the start of a levelling off in the property values in Lee County, attributed, in part, by the blue-green algae bloom that hit the area last summer and a slowdown in the economy in general.

Sanibel’s estimated valuation was almost flat in June, but saw its eventual increase rise to 1.60 percent. Fort Myers Beach was 3.70 percent, and Estero’s estimated increase was 2.56 percent.

Overall, Lee County saw its taxable valuation increase by 6.62 percent as opposed to the preliminary 5.36 percent of last month, with a total taxable valuation of $83.666 billion, up $5.194 billion from 2017.

The final figures for all taxing districts will be sent to Tallahassee for final approval.

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