New construction buoys tax base growth

New construction in Gulf County, and the restoration of properties damaged by Hurricane Michael, have contributed to a better than 13 percent increase in the county’s tax base.

Property Appraiser Mitch Burke has provided the county’s 2021 preliminary taxable value to the Florida Department of Revenue, as well as to all the local taxing authorities for budget planning purposes. The values include both real and personal property.

These preliminary values show the county’s tax base is about $2.034 billion, 13.24 percent over last year’s final total, and 25.15 percent over that of the 2019-20 fiscal year.

In the case of the Gulf County Schools, which allows for a slightly smaller amount of tax exemptions, the tax base is just shy of $2.298 billion, a 13.52 percent boost over last year, and 31.44 percent over 2019-20.

Port St. Joe’s combined taxable property value grew over last year at an even greater pace than that of the county as a whole, rising to just short of $373 million. This was 15.87 percent over last year’s final, and 29.53 percent over the city tax base of two years ago.

Wewahitchka posted a little less than half the percentage growth of Port St. Joe, tallying a preliminary estimate of about $62.3 million, 6.74 percent more than last year, and 14.66 percent greater than two years ago.

The growth in new construction throughout the county moved a torrid pace, showing a 42 percent growth over last year, and a 55 percent increase over two years ago. The combined total for this new growth was close to $63 million.

At the same time new construction was booming, the total valuation of classified land, under an agricultural status, stood at $$51.7 million, a decline of 1.10 percent over last year, and 5.01 percent lower than two years ago.

“Even though you see a relatively larger percentage increase from years 2020 to 2021, keep in mind our county was faced with the devastation of Hurricane Michael back in 2018,” said Burke.

He said the tax base increases are the result of a healthy market change, as well as to renovation of properties, which increases their effective age. Effective age is a term used by appraisers to state the age of a property based on its current condition, rather than its actual age.

“While our office has worked diligently on the valuation of new market sales and trends, we continue to work at restoring those properties repaired and or replaced as a result of Hurricane Michael,” Burke said.

He said that of the county’s total of 9,356 improved parcels, 7,678, or 80 percent of them, had some sort of damage from the hurricane. Today, those damaged parcels are down to 3,772 or 40.3 percent, Burke said.

Economic trends for Gulf County appear to show the city in a healthy real estate market. As of Jan. 1, new construction and additions account for approximately $62.86 million of taxable value. This is up 42 percent, or $18.6 million, from $44.26 million in 2020.

Real estate sales in 2020 for the county were 2,450, and average of 204 sales per month. “In addition, when comparing last year’s first quarter 2020 sales with this year’s first quarter sales in 2021, we are up 50 percent,” Burke said.

Under Florida law, county property appraisers must value every property in the state as of an effective date of Jan. 1, 2020. “Our appraisers consistently monitor market transactions and trends,” Burke said. “Any increase or decrease in sales prices which occur in 2020 will impact property values as of our Jan. 1, 2021 valuation.”

The Gulf County Property Appraiser’s office, at 1000 Cecil G. Costin Sr. Blvd. in Port St. Joe, and online at, can be reached at 850-229-6115.

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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