By JIM LINETTE
Overall property valuations in Lee County are slightly higher than projected since Property Appraiser Ken Wilkinson released the estimated 2014 Tax Roll Values.
The appraiser's preliminary figures for 2014 countywide, which were released Friday, are higher by about 2 percent over last month's estimate with Cape Coral seeing a higher-than-anticipated boost of more than 3 percent.
"There are no surprises there," said Wilkinson. "With another month's work I expect it to continue to go up. That's what happens when you are in an appreciating market."
In Cape Coral, property taxable values had increased 5.5 percent over 2013 last month to now 8.63 percent with the latest numbers. Sanibel is seeing a 4.82 percent increase in its taxable values this year and Fort Myers is at 9.2 percent. Fort Myers Beach's values show a 6.6 percent increase and Bonita Springs 8.3 percent. Fire District increases range from a low of 2.27 percent for Upper Captiva to a high of 8.53 for Lehigh Acres. North Fort Myers stands at 4.82 percent above last year and Matlacha-Pine Island comes in at 3.62 percent.
By August, all taxing agencies in the county will have filed their final millage rate so that Wilkinson can then send out the annual TRIM notices containing the final tax values for 2014 to all property owners.
After the TRIM notices arrive, property owners then have 25 days to contact the appraiser's office to appeal their taxable value if they think it is too high.
The 2014 tax roll values still have to be approved by state agencies in Tallahassee.
"That is not a problem. In 34 years every tax roll I've sent them has been approved," said Wilkinson.
Property values started to rise in the county overall two years ago while some communities still saw decreases. Most properties in the county increased for 2013 with few exceptions. This year, every city, town and taxing district in the county is seeing values rise anywhere from 2.2 percent to 9.2 percent at this point.
"The last time we had an up market was January 2007 when the market was at its peak," said Wilkinson. "I have no problem with the way it's coming back this time. In my opinion, I don't want to see double-digit increases like before. Right now, this market has the highest percent of cash sales."
The Lee County market lost half of its total value from 2007 until the market started to turn last year, Wilkinson said.
The annual process is complete when tax bills start arriving in county mailboxes in November.