As a sharp drop in sales tax receipts looms for Franklin County coffers, one pot of money that won’t be getting any smaller will be property taxes.
According to preliminary valuations filed by the Property Appraiser Rhonda Skipper’s office this week with the Florida Department of Revenue, each of the county’s eight taxing districts saw growth in their tax bases this past year, all set according to 2019 valuations, which are largely influenced by sales activity.
According to numbers shared by Casey Nash, chief deputy appraiser in Skipper’s office, county commissioners will see a 5.4 percent increase in the county’s tax bases, a $110 million expansion from $2.03 billion last year to $2.14 billion this year.
This growth is slightly below the 6.8 percent growth the year before, when the county added about $130 million to its tax base.
The school district’s tax pie, larger since there are fewer allowable exemptions, grew by about $90 million, from $2.22 billion to $2.31 billion, or a roughly 4 percent expansion. This growth is smaller than the year prior, when the school’s tax base expanded by 9.3 percent.
The only other countywide taxing district, the Northwest Florida Water Management District, grew by $110 million, from $2.04 billion to $2.15 billion, also about a 5.4 percent increase. This is somewhat smaller than the $140 million growth, about 7.4 percent, seen a year prior.
Apalachicola’s tax base expanded by about $10.1 million, from $160.6 million to $170.7 million, the equivalent of 6.3 percent, a little less than the 7.3 percent seen a year prior.
Carrabelle saw a more robust 7.8 percent jump, a $8.8 million hike to $122 million from $113.2 million. This growth rate was nearly three times what was seen the year before, when the tax base grew by just 2.8 percent.
The Eastpoint Water and Sewer District’s valuation grew by $4.9 million, from $68.9 million to $73.8 million, a jump of 7.1 percent, triple the 2.7 percent growth posted the year prior.
The Alligator Point Water and Sewer District saw a sizeable 8.5 percent expansion, even better than the 7.3 percent growth the year prior, as its tax base was up by $12.2 million, from $143.1 to $155.3 million.
The Dog Island Conservation District saw the smallest percentage growth of any taxing authority, a $900,000 increase, from $24.8 million to $25.7 million, a boost of 3.7 percent. Still, that growth was much improved over the 9.9 percent plunge in the island’s tax a year before.
"You see growth because of sales. We’ve had a very good sales year," said Nash. "We don’t see any dropping for the coming year in sales. It looks like it’s still increasing."
The county will set its millage rate by August 4, with the property appraiser mailing out TRIM (Truth in Millage) notices the third week in August. These notices indicate all the maximum millages the taxing authorities have set for themselves, with each retaining the option of lowering their millage rates before they are finalized by October, the start of the fiscal year.
After the TRIM notices are sent, property owners have three weeks to challenge their valuations, which they can do by contacting the property appraiser’s office. If no agreement can be reached, these taxpayers have the option of challenging their valuation with the county’s Value Adjustment Board.