Property values rise more than $1B in county

Property values in Indian River County went up more than $1 billion between January 2019 and January 2020, Property Appraiser Wesley Davis announced Monday.

At the same time, Davis said he would prefer that property owners not be taxed on the added value, in case the COVID-19 shutdown ends up pushing real estate prices down.

The taxable value of real estate in Vero Beach increased by $90.8 million, or 3 percent, while values in Sebastian went up $89.8 million, or 6.57 percent.

Indian River Shores added $86.3 million in value, or 2.6 percent. Fellsmere values increased $113 million, 3.9 percent, while property in the Town of Orchid appreciated slightly, gaining $924,000 in value, less than a quarter of 1 percent.

The value of property taxed by the county general fund increased by nearly $780 million, going up from $18.58 billion to $19.36 billion, an increase of 4.25 percent.

The new, higher values are based on surveys and analysis done prior to Jan. 1. In a press release, Davis announced the values and released a letter he wrote to state Sen. Debbie Mayfield asking the legislature to consider intervening to stop higher local tax rates based on the higher valuations from going into effect. Davis made a similar request to Rep. Erin Grall.

Cities, towns and counties set tax rates and send out tax bills to property owners based on the property appraiser’s valuations.

“As Property Appraiser, I do not set taxes, but property values are submitted to local government for action in September and used as the basis for setting taxes,” Davis wrote in his letter to Mayfield. “I do not believe it is fair for our citizens to face potential higher taxes based on valuations that we know may be inaccurate. Unfortunately, I have no authority to change valuations made January 1st. I need your help and the help of the Florida Legislature to right this potential wrong … one suggestion is that we leave valuations at 2019 levels through the end of 2020.”

Davis said he is cutting costs in his office in anticipation of decreased county revenue due to COVID-19 shutdowns.

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