Brevard sees boost in property values

An improved economy has boosted Brevard County’s property values by about 8 percent since last year, but it’s too early for local officials to say what that will mean for taxpayers.

“More real estate transactions at higher prices happened in 2017 than happened in 2016,” county Property Appraiser Dana Blickley said last week.

Blickley’s staff issued estimates this month of the current values of taxable properties in the county, the School District, the cities and special taxing districts.

The value of county properties, for instance, increased by 8.16 percent since last year, from $34.6 billion to $37.4 billion, her staff estimated. That increase is based on $535.6 million from new homes, businesses and other construction on the tax rolls, with the remaining $2.3 billion from increased values of property already on the tax rolls.

Blickley said the economy and interest rates have encouraged more people to purchase new property, add onto their property or to build. About 70 percent of the new construction countywide it is residential, with about 30 percent commercial.

“Up in Cape Canaveral, there are new hotels built,” she said. “We haven’t had new hotels built in years. … There are 30 new subdivisions in the ground. We haven’t had that much since before the (2006) housing boom.”

Overall, these are good signs for the county, Blickley said. But it’s just an estimate to help local governments start preparing their next budgets, which would go into effect Oct. 1. Her staff next is tasked with updating the estimates, using any new data, and issuing a certified valuation by July 1.

County Manager Frank Abbate, meanwhile, said he and Assistant County Manager John Denninghoff, and Budget Director Jill Hayes are using Blickley’s estimates to work with county department directors and other agency heads on their requested budgets for the next fiscal year.

But while the county’s overall property values increased by 8.16 percent, he said, that doesn’t mean he can take advantage of that and increase the tax rate by a similar percentage.

Taxpayers countywide this year had a levy of about $4.16 per every $1,000 of taxable property to support the general fund, a series of countywide services like the jail and courthouse.

The owner of a home valued at $150,000, with a $50,000 combined homestead exemption, would have paid $416 toward those services.

“While property values did increase by approximately 8 percent, growth in property tax revenue is capped under a provision in the Brevard County Charter and cannot increase by more than 2.13 percent for existing properties,” Abbate said last week in an email.

Also, he said, he can’t decrease the tax rate, either, just because he’ll get to tax $535.6 million in new construction without the cap.

He said the county has almost $150 million in unfunded needs, including $86 million for new roads.

And those figures don’t include employee wages, he added.

Abbate and his staff are scheduled July 14 to present their new proposed budget to the County Commission.

While county staffers are working on their budgets, town and city officials are doing the same thing. And they also say it’s too early to guess what they will propose.

For instance, Indian Harbor Beach saw a 7.64 percent increase in property value, from $842.8 million last year to an estimated $902.3 million now – including almost $4 million in new construction.

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