The taxable value of property in Brevard County has risen nearly 9 percent in the last year, a just-released report from Brevard County Property Appraiser Dana Blickley shows.
The estimated general fund taxable value of property in Brevard was $37.66 billion on Jan. 1. That’s up from $34.56 billion a year earlier.
“It has been a very active real estate market over the past few years in Brevard County,” Blickley said. “We continue to see a strong housing market, where buyers and sellers continue to take advantage of the historically low interest rates.”
The taxable value of property is a key financial indicator for county and municipal officials, as they work to establish budgets for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.
Blickley’s report also shows that there was $582.74 million in completed new construction added to the tax rolls this year, up more than 53 percent from the previous year’s figures of $380.11 million.
Blickley described the gain in new construction as “healthy.”
She said more than 30 new residential subdivisions were added to the tax rolls this year, as well as a number of large commercial construction projects.
Among the biggest increases in commercial construction property values was at the Titus Landing retail complex off U.S. 1 in Titusville, whose market value rose from $6.73 million in 2017 to $22.10 million in 2018. Other new or expanded commercial projects that contributed to increases in taxable values in Brevard included medical facilities, hotels, office complexes, warehouse facilities, storage complexes, retail shops, restaurants and service stations.
Taxable values rose in unincorporated Brevard and all 16 cities and towns.
Municipalities registering the biggest percentage increases were West Melbourne (13.2 percent), Titusville (11.8 percent), Palm Bay (10.9 percent) and Palm Shores (10.3 percent).
In some beachside communities, however, the increases in taxable values were less than 8 percent. Blickley attributed that in part to damage caused by Hurricane Irma in September, which reduced the values of the damaged properties.
Most of Brevard’s larger cities showed relatively large percentage increases in new construction, including Cocoa (up 244 percent), Titusville (up 129 percent), West Melbourne (up 116 percent), Palm Bay (up 94 percent) and Melbourne (up 59 percent).
Brevard County Communications Director Don Walker said the increase in taxable value and the increase in new construction will translate into more potential property tax revenue.
While it’s “not a windfall,” Walker said it means that “we’ve got more money to work with as we go into the budget season.”
Brevard County Manager Frank Abbate’s proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 will be submitted to county commissioners next week, starting a process of County Commission budget workshops and hearings.
Walker said among the things the budget will focus on are such “critical needs” as road infrastructure, drainage improvements, and facility repairs and upgrades.
County Commission Vice Chair Kristine Isnardi said Blickley’s property value report points to a strong economy in Brevard.
Isnardi said she expects Abbate will produce “a solid budget,” and that county management and county commissioners will be cautious in their budget deliberations.
Isnardi said there is always the concern of another overheated real estate market that could decline in coming years.
She also noted that a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot this November, if approved, would expand the homestead exemption on residential property taxes, thereby reducing potential property tax revenue to counties and municipalities in future years.
Michael Gaich, a longtime retail/office developer, said the rise in new workers, particularly those at the upper end in the aerospace and engineering professions, seems to be driving much of the value growth.
They’re selling properties in states like New York and California, and using the proceeds to buy sizable homes here.
That, in turn, drives both residential and commercial growth.
“This is being driven by all the new employment that has come to this county,” Gaich said. “It’s higher-paying jobs, whether it’s in Cape Canaveral, the Kennedy Space Center or right down in Melbourne with Embraer, Harris or Northrop Grumman.”
Mike Artelli, president of the Space Coast Association of Realtors, said the low inventory of homes for sale is a major force behind the rise in taxable value in Brevard.
In some cases, homes that go on the market will have inquiries, if not offers, within a day or two, if not hours, Artelli said.
Blickley said, once the taxing authorities have completed their preliminary budget hearings, her office will provide “truth in millage” or TRIM notices of proposed property taxes to all property owners.
She said those notices will be mailed to all property owners on Aug. 20.
“Property owners should review those notices carefully for value conclusions and applicable property tax exemptions,” Blickley said
Blickley said property owners should be aware that non-ad valorem assessments do not appear on the TRIM notices mailed in August. For some property owners, those assessments can total $500 or more each year.
Dave Berman is government editor at FLORIDA TODAY.