Okeechobee County property values rising

OKEECHOBEE — Okeechobee County may see an estimated 5 percent increase in property values for the 2017-18 fiscal year, according to a report presented by Okeechobee County Property Appraiser Mickey Bandi at the March 8 Okeechobee County Commission meeting.

Three factors increase the property tax roll, he explained: increase in market value, sales and new construction.

He said sales are a big factor for the county because a lot of the homes have the Save Our Homes cap, which limits the tax appraisal to an increase of 3 percent per year. While the market value of a home may increase more than that, the taxable property value cannot increase more than 3 percent until the home is sold to a new owner.

Mickey Bandi

Mr. Bandi said the county did not see a lot of new construction in the past fiscal year, although “we had some big jumps early.”

He said due to the ups and downs of the real estate market, people who built homes around 2006 are just now seeing the market value of their homes get to the point that they could sell and “walk away with some money.”

Mr. Bandi said according to local realtors, the median sale price of single-family and mobile homes went up last year. Average home sale prices ranged from $116,289 to $135,735.

He said according to the local realtors, “in the $150,000 to $225,000 range, there is nothing on the market.

“We’re starting to see some houses sell over $300,000,” he said. “Two on Sunset Strip sold for well over $300,000.”

Mr. Bandi said the 5 percent increase is an estimate. He explained that the homestead exemptions and agriculture tax status applications were due March 1. About 500 homestead exemption applications have not yet been processed into the system, he added. The property appraiser’s staff has started going out to check the properties with applications for agriculture exemptions.

He said the new Florida Power & Light power plant will not be taxable until 2020.

After pollution control equipment, economic development and embedded software deductions, the FPL power plant will generate an estimated $2.4 million in taxes for the county, based on the current tax rate.

He said FPL estimated construction costs at $1.2 billion, but that “they do come in under budget sometimes.”

“That number is not written in stone,” he said.

“The public should be cognizant that this is an estimated number,” said Commission Chairman Terry Burroughs.

The economic development exemption starts at 70 percent the first year, Mr. Bandi said.

“That tapers off over time, but the power plant value will also depreciate over time.”

Publisher/Editor Katrina Elsken can be reached at kelsken@newszap.com

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