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County’s tax base on the upswing

For the first time in more than 15 years, the market value of Franklin County’s properties have eclipsed the $4 billion mark, as it nears closer towards recapturing the peak that it reached in 2005.

Property Appraiser Rhonda Skipper said market values are moving towards regaining the ground lost in the late-2000s, after the real estate market plummeted both here and nationwide.

“It was right at $4 billion in the early 2000s, and reached a high of $4.6 billion in 2005,” said Skipper, as she reviewed the numbers that went into making good faith estimates of the tax bases for the 2022-23 fiscal year.

These estimates of taxable values enable the local taxing authorities to begin their budget planning, which will take place this summer and into the early fall. Her office will soon be putting out preliminary valuations, and then ultimately a final valuation, after adjustments have been made.

“Ten times out of 10 it will increase somewhat,” she said.

Taxable values are lower than market values, because they are based on a valuation conducted by the property appraiser’s office, and not necessarily what a willing buyer will pay for a property to a willing seller. Comparable sales are factored into these estimates, as well as the many exemptions, such as homestead, that lower a taxable value.

“Everybody went up,” Skipper said.

She said the county’s tax base is expected to grow from $2.34 billion to about $2.47 billion, an increase of about $127 million, or about 5.4 percent.

The tax base for the school district, which includes fewer exemptions, will grow from $2.52 billion to about $2.72 billion, growth of about $200 million, or about 7.9 percent.

The county-wide tax base for the Northwest Florida Water Management District will see a rise of about $136 million, or roughly 5.8 percent, from $2.35 billion to $2.48 billion

The city of Carrabelle’s tax base will rise by about $12 million, or 8.9 percent, from $135.3 million to $147.3 million.

Apalachicola will see a slightly smaller level of growth, a rise of $4 million, or about 2.1 percent, from $187.5 million to $191.5 million.

In Alligator Point, the growth has been about $9 million, or 5.3 percent, from $169 million to $178 million for the tax base that encpasses the water district. The reason Alligator Point’s tax base is nearly equivalent to Apalachicola is that the majority are not homesteaded, and subject to a 3 percent annual cap, but are vacation homes, not eligible to be homesteaded, and subject to a 10 percent annual cap.

Growth on Dog Island remains modest, growing by about $461,000, or about 1.7 percent, from $26.2 million to $26.6 million.

“Dog Island is still recovering from Hurricane Michael,” said Skipper. “They’re still demolishing houses that were left irreparable. They still have a ways to go.”

The Eastpoint Water and Sewer District will see a rise from $85.5 million to $89.4 million, a growth of about $3.9 million, or roughly 4.5 percent.

Skipper said she does not foresee the sort of market collapse the county experienced in 2006-7.

“When I ran my trending factors, I don’t see it going down anywhere, but continually climbing higher and higher,” she said. “In the early 200s, when the market blew out of sight, when people were paying cash it kept climbing and with mortgages it started slowing down.

“A lot are still being paid by cash,” she said. “I see it still climbing. I don’t think it will continue to climb as it has in the last year. Realistically it has to slow down.”

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Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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