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Lee County property values continue to rise

FMB sees hike of 6.72 percent

May 29, 2016
By Jim Linette ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

For the fourth year in a row, property values in Lee County continue to increase, according to the preliminary estimated Taxable Values for 2016 released Friday, and that increase is 6.62 percent countywide.

Fort Myers Beach's taxable property values rose by 6.72 percent over 2015.

"Though the percentage increase sounds impressive, the new evaluation will only net $150,000 to the town with the current ad valorem (property tax) rate," said Anita Cereceda, a Town Council member who was mayor in 2014 and 2015. "Since homes are usually an individual's greatest asset, this is positive news for an island homeowner."

The increases for some other Lee County municipalities are:

Cape Coral, 6.64 percent.

Sanibel, 3.98 percent.

Fort Myers, 8.44 percent.

"We have 91 taxing authorities in Lee County and there are no negative percentages anywhere in the county," said Lee property appraiser Ken Wilkinson. "I think they will all be pleased. Of course, we have another month to work on the figures so the value could still go up some as we check for errors."

The total taxable value on new construction countywide rose from $972.5 million in 2015 to over $1.3 billion for 2016.

Wilkinson's office faces a July 1 deadline to notify the taxing authorities of their final estimate value figures which will then be used by government agencies to set the millage rate through two required public hearings.

Those figures also will be sent to Tallahassee for approval, but, Wilkinson said, the state has never not approved the figures. The final estimate figures will be mailed to every property owner in the form of TRIM notices in mid-August.

After the TRIM notices arrive, property owners then have 25 days to contact the appraiser's office to appeal their taxable value if they think it is too high.

Among the local fire districts, Upper Captiva increased the least, just 0.25 percent, and Fort Myers Beach rose the most at 6.06 percent. Captiva Fire District increased just 0.44 percent, Matlacha-Pine Island by 5.06, North Fort Myers by 5.47 and Sanibel by 3.84 percent. Lehigh fire district opted out of the county tax roll for 2016 by passing a Fire Service Assessment tax instead.

Property values started to rise in Lee County overall three years ago while some communities still saw decreases. Most property in the county increased for 2013 with few exceptions. These last two years every city, town and taxing district in the county is seeing higher 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.

- Observer editor John Morton contributed to this story.



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