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Property values to increase amid pandemic

Tim Croft

All county property appraisers in Florida are in effect historians.

The job is what is the county snapshot as of Jan. 1 each year; this year before a global pandemic erupted.

Pondered in that light, it is of little surprise that county property values appear likely to climb this year, by double-digits for the county, school district and city of Port St. Joe, despite a pandemic that has ravaged finances from Washington to Wewahitchka.

Gulf County Property Appraiser Mitch Burke last week released the 2020 Estimate of Taxable Value to local taxing authorities as governments prepare to craft budgets for the upcoming fiscal years.

The estimated values will be finalized prior to July 1 when the taxable values must be submitted to the Florida Department of Revenue.

The Board of County Commissioners will see its tax base grow by just over 10 percent compared to 2019.

Public schools statewide do not apply the same homestead exemptions as other taxing authorities and Gulf District Schools is estimated to see a 13.2 percent increase to the tax base compared to last year.

The increase in property values in the city of Port St. Joe is estimated by Burke at 12.37 percent compared to last year.

The city of Wewahitchka’s increase in property values this year will be a slightly more modest at 8.2 percent, Burke reported.

“Even though you see a relatively larger percentage increase from years 2019 to 2020, keep in mind our county was faced with the devastation of Hurricane Michael (in late 2018),” Burke said.

”These increases are both a result of the market change in addition to properties being renovated therefore increasing their effective age.”

Effective age, Burke added, is used by appraisers to state the age of a property based on its current condition rather than actual age.

For example, Burke said, a 40-year-old home could have an effective age of 10 years due to excellent maintenance and updates.

Another snapshot from the estimated tax values shows that from 2018-2020, the BOCC has seen the tax base increase just 2.95 percent; the school district 1.48 percent; and both cities have seen an increase of roughly 5 percent in the tax base since 2018.

“Our office is aware of the impacts that COVID-19 has had on our local community,” Burke said.

However, he added, county property appraisers must value every property in the state as of an effective date of Jan. 1.

“Any impacts from COVID-19 would not impact 2020 property values as we must analyze sales data and trends from 2019,” Burke said. “Our appraisers consistently monitor market transactions and trends.

“Any increase or decrease in sales prices which occur in 2020 will impact property values as of our Jan. 1, 2021 valuation.”

The Property Appraiser’s office is located at the courthouse located at 1000 Cecil G. Costin Sr. Blvd. in Port St. Joe.

The phone number is 229-6115 and the website