PORT CHARLOTTE — The Charlotte County Commission learned damage from Hurricane Ian brought tax relief for area residents — but it will cause a financial shortfall for the county.
However, county budget director Gordon Burger said new construction, taxes from home sales along with the continued influx of new residents to Southwest Florida and Charlotte County will help to balance a potential revenue shortfall.
During a recent workshop on the 2023-24 budget, Burger said the state is offering two avenues of relief to property taxpayers who were impacted by Hurricane Ian.
First, homeowners who were unable to live in their homes because of the hurricane for at least 30 days will be able to apply to the state for a partial refund of 2022 property taxes.
Second, the Charlotte County appraiser will survey each storm-damaged home. Assessed valuations will be decreased, Burger said.
“If my roof is damaged, let’s say they assume that’s a $50,000 damage,” Burger gave as an example. “They’re going to actually take that $50,000 off my just value and some portion of that will come off my taxable value. So my tax bill will be lower as a result of it.”
Commissioner Joe Tiseo asked Burger if the homeowner would have to do something to get the reduction.
“There’s nothing I would have to do,” Burger responded. “It’s on the property appraiser.”
“The property appraiser has to go out and figure all that out? The level of damage for each house that’s been damaged?” Tiseo asked.
“Yes,” Burger said.
“We’re talking about thousands of houses,” Tiseo said. “Then you have to come up with evaluation on the estimate of damages?”
Yes, Burger said.
“It will also impact the nonresidential property,” he said. “The state is estimating a $1.3 billion reduction in our taxable value, which would be a huge hit.”
During his presentation, Burger showed that 80% of the county’s total revenue comes from 12 areas, with ad valorem taxes being number one. It provided 38.4% of revenues, or $175.5 million, in the 2021-2022 fiscal year. It was followed by water and sewer charges ($97.6 million), and assessments ($72 million).
Burger said revenue from new construction and sales “just keeps going up.” He said there’s a two-year lag between when a permit is pulled and when a property comes to sale.
“We’re looking for a very sizable increase from 2020 to 2021, and that increase will show up in this year’s tax rate, so we’re looking at very, very healthy new construction,” he said.
Tiseo asked Burger what the $1.3 billion reduction in taxable value means in dollars, assuming it would be more than $10 million.
Burger said it would be in that ballpark.
“We’re looking at revenue shortfall just from (that),” Tiseo said. “Did they (state legislators) propose a way for the state to backfill?”
Burger said he was not aware of the state providing a way to fill the shortfall.
Tiseo said the county “may want to consider some effort to lobby our legislators for some type of backfill due to the hurricane’s impact on our local revenue. Because if they’re going to pass something that reduces our revenue, we’ve got to make up for it somewhere.”
Burger said one of the biggest revenue drivers is exchange of property sales.
Giving an example, he said, a home purchased for $200,000 a decade earlier that now sells for $500,000, will add another $300,000 subject to property taxes.
And the assessed valuation of homes in 2023 is projected to be near 2007-08 levels, which was the previous peak since 1984.
The market in 2007-08 had “a very different growth,” Burger said.
Those years were driven by land transfers, flipping properties and speculators.
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