County property values level off


Published: Wednesday, July 10, 2013 at 2:31 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 10, 2013 at 2:31 p.m.

Alachua County's property values have leveled off after a five-year period during which they declined by approximately 12 percent.

For county government's coffers, taxable values declined last year by a little less than 0.7 percent, from almost $11.28 billion in 2012 to $11.2 billion.

For the school district, values inched upward by a little more than 0.8 percent, from a little more than $12.3 billion to a little more than $12.4 billion, according to the certified numbers that the Alachua County Property Appraiser's Office released before a July 1 deadline.

County government and the school district both have countywide taxing authority, but their taxable values are different because school districts are exempt from the state's second $25,000 homestead exemption.

The valuations are based on residential and commercial property sales, new construction and tangible property during 2012. Local governments will use the values to set their property tax rates and build their budgets for fiscal year 2013-2014. The values changed very little from the preliminary numbers the office released before the June 1 deadline.

Property Appraiser Ed Crapo said that in the spring his office expected a more pronounced, 2 percent countywide decline in values, “but we didn't get it, fortunate for all of us.”

In addition to the school district, the towns of Alachua, Archer, LaCrosse and Micanopy saw their taxable values increase. Micanopy and LaCrosse saw the largest percentage increases at 2.71 percent each.

Gainesville saw values decline by a little less than 0.5 percent to $5.14 billion. City Manager Russ Blackburn has released a proposed budget that would maintain the city's current property tax rate of almost $4.50 for every $1,000 of taxable property value. But the list of programs and spending the City Commission might consider adding to Blackburn's proposal tops $2 million, so it remains to be seen what property tax rate commissioners will approve.

Newberry, at 5.5 percent, and High Springs, at a little less than 3.75 percent, had the largest declines in value.

“It wasn't all that bad,” High Springs City Manager Ed Booth said.

Booth said the city's upcoming budget will receive help from the introduction of a franchise fee on Clay Electric, an increase in building permit revenues because of growth this calendar year, and a reduction in insurance costs.

In the recession and economic downturn, taxable values for the county's general fund have declined since peaking at approximately $12.8 billion in 2007.

But the downward spiral was more dramatic in other Florida counties.

Taxable values in neighboring Marion County, for instance, declined by more than 31 percent from 2007 to 2012 before inching up by 0.11 percent this year

Christopher Curry is a Gainesville Sun staff writer.

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