County property values jumped for a fourth consecutive year in 2017.



County property values jumped for a fourth consecutive year in 2017, with the biggest single year increase coming in the 2017 tax rolls.

Property Appraiser Mitch Burke submitted his preliminary tax roll to the Department of Revenue last week on the July 1 deadline.

The taxable value of both real and personal property in the county rose to $1.617 billion, an increase of 9.3 percent.

That boosted the average annual increase over the past five years to 4 percent.

Though another year on the positive, county property values remain $1 billion behind the peak of 2005-06 prior to what is known as the Great Recession.

“We have seen gradual increase which is good, but we are at nothing like ’05-’06,” Burke said.

In contrast to the Board of County Commissioners, the Gulf County School Board will realize an increase in taxable property values of 14.4 percent; school taxes are subject to fewer exceptions.

The city of Port St. Joe showed an increase in its tax base, rising 4.7 percent and the city of Wewahitchka also realized an increase in the tax base, which rose 4.1 percent.

Each of the three Municipal Services Taxing Units established to fund beach restoration also realized an increase in values of property within the boundaries, which, in theory should bring down MSTU taxes.

The property roll becomes the template against which government budgets will be crafted in the coming months; for the county and cities the new fiscal year begins in October, for Gulf District Schools it began July 1.

“Hopefully, as a result of the steady increase in Gulf County’s taxable value, the public may see lower millage rates,” Burke said.

Burke noted a stronger housing market in the county, with new construction on the march and properties reaching the market now staying on the market a shorter period of time.

For the calendar year, there were 99 permits issued by the building department for single-family home construction.

“We are seeing new construction taking place, which is great news,” Burke said, noting $37.59 million in new construction as of Jan. 1.

That was up 63 percent from 2016 and 97 percent from 2015.

Most that new construction is taking place in South Gulf County, Burke added.

“Gulf County seems to be experiencing an active and healthy market again,” Burke added.

The property appraiser is effectively a historian, assessing taxable property values as of Jan. 1 of each year, the preliminary tax roll released six months later.

The tax roll is a snapshot of county conditions, which may or may not have changed in the ensuing six months.

But, Burke said, all indices are pointing up.

The Northwest Florida Water Management District also showed an increase in property values, rising 9.4 percent, and in addition every one of the county’s fire districts also realized an increase in taxable property values.

The largest was the St. Joe Fire Zone which realized an increase of 11.6 percent.