The Brown Team
RICK BROWN: (239) 322-2313 BRENDA BOOTH-BROWN: (239) 287-8834
Click here for a chart of the 2012 property values released for Lee County and to read more of this article: http://www.news-press.com/article/20120630/RE/306300015/1076/HOMESCAPE99 Countywide property values have slightly decreased, marking a fifth straight year of revenue losses for Lee County government, according to the property appraiser’s latest estimate. The latest 0.2 percent drop in countywide values, however, is the smallest decline since the real estate market collapsed. “There’s still a lot of people who lost value,” Property Appraiser Ken Wilkinson said. “There’s still a lot of foreclosures we have to deal with, but I think in the coming years we’ll have a positive roll.” When Wilkinson issued projections to local taxing authorities earlier this month, he predicted that property values would work out to slight increases by the time his office released Friday’s numbers. Cape Coral and Lehigh Acres were among the biggest winners in Friday’s estimates, with increases of 3.82 percent and 1.31 percent respectively. Fort Myers also showed a 0.64 percent uptick. “While we welcome the news that our property values trended upward, one year of improved values does not erase multiple years of significant decline,” Szerlag stated. The beach communities of Bonita Springs, Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel all lost value. Bonita Springs led the group, with values falling by 2.35 percent. The decrease works out to a revenue loss of $120,000. City Manager Carl Schwing said the city will be able to absorb the loss without cuts. Schwing said he suspects the beach communities are lagging behind the value trends set by Cape Coral and Lehigh. Those communities experienced value drops before the beach areas, Schwing said. Consequently, he said, they’re at the forefront of the recovery. “I think we’re following them,” Schwing said. “Hopefully next year we will see, at least, no decrease. Collier County property values rose slightly, indicating the local economy has stabilized after several years of declines. Naples’ taxable value also increased over last year from $14.5 billion to $14.9 billion. In Golden Gate, where some were expecting overall taxable value to fall again, increased from $4.52 billion to $4.6 billion. Marco Island also saw a drop from $7.5 billion in 2010 to $7.4 billion last year. Taxable property values for Lee County schools grew by 0.65 percent, providing a little extra money for operating and capital projects, Lee County Schools budget director Ami Desamours said. “It was not something we were counting on, but we were optimistic it might happen,” Desamours said. As for the 0.2 percent decrease in countywide values, Assistant County Manager Pete Winton said it won’t make much of a difference. The county has lost 45 percent of its taxable property values since 2008. County staff expected property values would remain relatively unchanged in budget projections for the coming year, Winton said. After next year, however, county officials are counting on property value increases to balance the budget. The county needs values to grow by 2 percent in each of the four years leading up to Fiscal Year 2017-18, while cutting $1 million a year in spending. If the uptick in revenues and cuts in spending aren’t realized, the county’s reserves will dry up sooner, according to county documents.