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Property valuations increase in North Fort Myers

July 10, 2019
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

The conservative preliminary estimates for many of the taxing districts in Lee County paled in comparison to the estimated tax rolls that came in before the holiday weekend.

That was especially true for properties within the North Fort Myers and Bayshore fire districts, which saw a pretty nice bounce from what the overall taxable valuation numbers were on June 1.

North Fort Myers saw an increase of a 4.87 percent, up from the preliminary estimate of 2.69 percent on June 1. Overall taxable valuation is $2.921 billion, up from $2.787 billion last year.

Last year, North Fort Myers taxable property valuation increased 5.72 percent, and 4.70 percent in 2016.

Fire Chief David Rice was unavailable for comment.

"We'll take it. It seems like things are tapering off a little, but it's good we got a increase. I look forward to seeing the numbers in July so we can decipher what we'll do budget wise," Rice said following the preliminary estimates last month. "We have some things we want to do in the future and every bit helps."

With the new numbers, the district could see an extra $250,000 go into its coffers.

Overall taxable valuation in the Bayshore Fire District nearly doubled from the estimates on June 1. Bayshore had a preliminary increase of 6.45 percent, a sharp increase from the 3.51 percent in June, which nearly met last year's figures.

Tax roll values were set at an estimated $430.559 million, up from $404,488,145 last year, when overall valuation increased 6.73 percent.

For both fire districts, it is the eighth consecutive year that taxable valuation has increased. This followed a recession that cut tax rolls by more than half and decimated both districts.

Bayshore chief Larry Nisbet, who is on vacation and was unavailable for comment, previously said the district has recovered a little more than half of that taxable value.

"It's a little better than treading water. It helps us maintain fulltime positions without grant assistance, not the full staffing we had before layoffs, but it solidifies three of the six positions we lost," Nisbet said last month when the estimates came out.

Unlike North Fort Myers, which passed a tax increase two years ago, Bayshore has been unable to do so, meaning it is still in recovery mode following the recession which saw overall valuation cut almost in half.

With these new numbers, Bayshore could expect to see roughly $70,000 more come into the district, which has expanded to include the Lee County area of Babcock Ranch.

Overall, Lee County saw its valuations increase by 6.62 percent, more than the preliminary 5.36 percent of last month, with a total taxable value of $83.666 billion, up $5.194 billion from 2017.

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

TRIM -- Truth in Millage -- notices are mailed to property owners in August. Property owners then have 25 days to resolve any disagreement in valuation with the property appraiser.

Taxing agencies that garner revenue from property tax valuations base their budgets on taxable valuation. An increase in valuations gives agencies some options: they can leave their tax rate the same and still get additional revenue; they can opt for the "rollback rate," and reduce the tax rate to bring in the same amount of revenue; they can reduce the rate further and cut taxes; or they can increase the tax rate, depending on the funding deemed necessary to pay for operations, projects and programs, and capital improvements.



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