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Beach property values jump higher

July 10, 2013
By BOB PETCHER ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Overall property valuations on Fort Myers Beach are actually higher than initially expected now that a second tax roll has been issued.

Lee County Property Appraiser Ken Wilkinson recently announced the increase for the Beach now stands at 2.22 percent after a report on a second set of valuation numbers was sent June 28. The values provide figures upon which the county, its various municipalities and taxing district base their budgetary revenue numbers.

The first preliminary estimate of total taxable valuation in late May for the Beach was reported to be an increase of 0.74 percent. The values have risen from $3.022 billion (final 2012) to $3.081 billion (currently).

"It's great for the residents of the Beach because their property values are going up and that reverses the trend of the last several years," said Beach Mayor Alan Mandel.

Mandel stated the second estimate will aid in the final assessment of the Town's budgetary process. He calls it a positive step in the right direction.

"We planned on it being less (than the prior report's numbers)," he said. "From a budgetary standpoint, it certainly is better than what we had estimated before."

Countywide, valuations were up 2.41 percent, also slightly higher than the 2 percent initially projected for June. That May 31 report saw a rise in property values for the first time since 2007.

The latest report will be sent to Tallahassee for approval.

"It's not a surprise. The higher number over a month showed we had another month's work to do," Wilkinson said. "It's good news to the people who spend it. It may not be good news if they don't change the millage then taxes go up."

Cape Coral's tax roll valuation surged 7.13 percent to $9.538 billion, a more than $634 million increase from 2012, one of the highest increases of any of the 92 taxing districts in Lee County.

While Cape Coral's property tax rate is expected to fall at least one mill, according to the city's preliminarily approved "financial diversification" plan, such a surge at the Beach is not expected due to the Town's already low tentative operating ad valorem rate at 0.7687 mils, which was adopted in mid-June to be in compliance with Florida Truth in Millage Law requirements.

However, due to diligent finance work in cutting costs, Beach property taxes may be lowered for a fourth consecutive year. Once final valuation numbers officially come in, roll-back rates will be determined. The Town works with a budget of roughly $5 million.

While Beach officials are expecting to hold more budget workshops to see if they can find methods to further lower the millage rate, two budget hearings have been set for Tuesday, Sept. 3 and Monday, Sept. 16, both at 6:30 p.m.

In other areas, Fort Myer's taxible valuation is up 3.68 percent, Sanibel's taxable valuations went up 1.05 percent and Bonita Springs taxable valuations increased 3.08 percent.

In the fire districts, the Beach's valuation rose 1.93 percent, Sanibel went up 0.99 percent, Bonita Springs increased 2.90 percent and Iona McGregor went up 2.79 percent.

--Chuck Ballaro contributed to this report



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