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Cape Coral taxable property valuation up 7.62 percent

By Staff | Jul 2, 2020

Property valuation numbers to be submitted to the state for the City of Cape Coral are much higher than the estimate released by the Lee County Property Appraiser last month.

Cape Coral’s preliminary overall taxable property valuation increased 7.62 percent in 2019, an increase from the 5.75 percent estimate last month.

Estimates are traditionally conservative with preliminary numbers coming in higher.

The total preliminary taxable valuation is about $16.59 billion, up from approximately $15.41 billion in 2019. New construction taxable valuation is $494.82 million, up from last year’s final of approximately $473.61 million.

Throughout Lee County, total taxable valuation increased 6.96 percent from last year to $96.59 billion, an increase of $5.87 billion. The taxable valuation of new construction was up $1.91 billion.

An increase in property valuation can generate additional revenue to a taxing entity if the current property rate is maintained and no cuts are made to other tax revenue sources. Governments can opt to adjust the property tax rate to a rollback rate, which would leave revenue at its current level despite the increase in overall valuation.

City spokesperson Maureen Buice, said the city’s 7.62 percent increase would equate to about $3.3 million more in ad valorem revenue than previously budgeted for the current fiscal year. When the city considered its proposed FY20 budget last year, a 4 percent increase in total taxable value was used.

City Manager John Szerlag said that while an increase is always good news, the pandemic has brought complications in structuring the budget.

“Growth in property values is always good to see as it enhances investment value. However, during this pandemic, we have to be most concerned about individual economic situations. As such, we need to structure a budget that strikes a balance between the overall cost of government and maintaining a good level of service to resident and business taxpayers,” Szerlag said in a statement.

The increase could be used to replace revenue expected to be lost from gas tax revenue as a result of the pandemic, which has resulted in the postponement of city projects such as sidewalks and increased street lighting.

The Cape Coral City Council will receive a proposed FY 2021 budget later this month, and will set a preliminary not-to-exceed millage rate shortly thereafter.

Kenneth Wilkinson, Lee County Property Appraiser, said that preliminary valuations tend to be higher than the estimated ones, since work is still being done. The only time they tend to decrease is because of error, which has happened very rarely in his 40 years at the position.

“If the past teaches us, values tend to go up. Where that might not be the circumstance is if there’s an error,” Wilkinson said.

One year, he discovered a $50 million error and that made a difference in one of the fire districts. Another year in the ’80s a $92 million error was corrected due to overvaluations.

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