June 14, 2021

Bayshore, North property valuations on the rise

By: Vicki Parsons - IT

By CHUCK BALLARO – | Jun 11, 2021 


Overall property valuations for the Bayshore and North Fort Myers fire districts have finally returned to levels they were at before the Great Recession in 2008 with both once again reporting increases.

The estimated tax rolls at Bayshore increased 6.29 percent, from $458,066,646 to $486,896,000, which brings the district back to the numbers it saw before the housing bust in 2008. In 2020, the estimated increase was 4.94 percent.

“We’re about back to where we were. The biggest problem we have now is we’re still down three positions, which we’re working on,” said outgoing Bayshore Fire Chief Larry Nisbet. “All our other positions are financially safe. We don’t have to worry about laying off anybody.

Nisbet said the numbers don’t reflect new construction or other intangibles, which did not surprise him as the numbers are still preliminary and the first tax roll done under new property appraiser Matt Caldwell.

The biggest issue is now to plan for the future and putting money together so that new chief Doug Underwood can replace apparatus and maybe add a new fire station in Babcock Ranch, which Bayshore services in the Lee County side.

Nisbet said the new valuations should add $84,000 to Bayshore’s budget for the 2022 fiscal year. He said by way of comparison, a 5 percent increase in Estero is $1.5 million.

In North Fort Myers, taxable valuation increased a solid 4.66 percent, from $3,082,478,622 to $3,226,159,000. Last year’s estimated valuation was 4.22 percent.

Christi Kulwicki, North Fort Myers Fire & Rescue spokesperson, said Fire Chief Ronald Beecroft and his staff weren’t prepared to forecast what it will mean for the district’s 2022 budget until the July 1 estimate is released.

“We haven’t begun to talk internally about that yet. They just don’t want to comment until we get the real numbers,” Kulwicki said.

Lee County saw a total taxable increase of 6.30 percent with an estimated $94.93 billion in property value, up from $89.30 billion.

Caldwell said residential is the catalyst of the boom and expects it to continue so next year.

“It was an open question last spring as the world went into lockdown and working from home impacted commercial property, but the demand for residential skyrocketed,” Caldwell said. “We’re capturing that strength in these numbers and expect the numbers to be higher next year as we continue to see strong appreciation.”

The preliminary tax rolls are released July 1, which tend to trend higher. Those numbers are then transmitted to the state 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.