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County tax base sees double-digit growth

David Adlerstein
The Star

The property tax base throughout Gulf County has rebounded strongly from the sharp drop last year due to the ravages of Hurricane Michael.

According to preliminary taxable valuations filed this week with the Florida Department of Revenue by Gulf County Property Appraiser Mitch Burke, double-digit increases in valuation of both real and personal property were seen countywide, returning the county to the six-year streak of growth in county property values that ended with the Oct. 2018 arrival of the hurricane.

The Gulf County school district saw its tax base rise to nearly $2.03 billion, a more than 15.9 percent increase over 2019-20’s $1.75 billion.

Gulf County commissioners are looking at a roughly 10.6 percent boost in their tax bases, to about $1.8 billion from last year’s roughly $1.63 billion.

Port St. Joe will see a hefty 12.5 percent expansion of its tax base, to a little more than $323.8 million from last year’s $287.6 million.

Wewahitchka saw a more modest 7.4 percent growth, to $58.3 million from last year’s roughly $52.4 million.

But even with this growth, Burke cautioned that it still remains under 5 percent more than when compared to 2018-19 valuations.

In Port St. Joe, the tax base is about 5.2 percent bigger than it was two years ago, for the schools and county it’s 3.9 and 3.3 percent respectively, and in Wewa it’s about 3.6 percent higher.

“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,” he said. “These increases are a result of the market change, and in addition to properties being renovated, therefore increasing their effective age.”

Burke said “effective age” is a term used by appraisers to state the age of a property based on its current condition, rather than its actual age.

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

Burke said that the valuation of new construction throughout the county, estimated at roughly $42.8 million, is nearly 5.9 percent over last year, and about 2 percent more than was seen two years ago.

The only category that will see a decrease in the tax base will be that of land classified as agricultural. At $52.2 million, this tax base will shrink by about 4.1 percent, and stands at 18 percent below what it was in 2018-19.

Burke said there will be no effects of the coronavirus on property values this next fiscal year.

“Our office is aware of the impacts that COVID-19 has had on our local community,” he said. “Under Florida law, county property appraisers must value every property in the state as of an effective date of Jan. 1, 2020. Any impacts from COVID-19 would not impact 2020 property values as we must analyze sales data and trends from 2019.

“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,” he said.

The Gulf County Property Appraiser’s office at 1000 Cecil G. Costin Sr. Blvd. in Port St. Joe remains open under regular business hours. It can be reached by phone at 229-6115, or online at