For now, the scenarios that Alachua County Assistant Manager Tommy Crosby and the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) discussed on Tuesday are anecdotal, but homeowners in Alachua County should be prepared for a possible increase in property taxes.
In Tuesday's special meeting addressing the fiscal year 2022, it was clear from comments by Crosby and BOCC Chair Ken Cornell that, while commercial property in Alachua County may have taken a hit during the pandemic, residential property is gaining value.
Cornell, who has worked in local real estate for 20 years, said he had "a big fear on what COVID would do to commercial property," but he saw record growth in residential property sales, which is driving up home values and bringing in multiple bids on houses as soon as they hit the market.
He said he estimates an overall 4 percent increase in property values county-wide, and even if the millage rate stays the same that adds up to $5 million in recurring revenue toward the county's general fund.
The largest revenue source for Alachua County, Crosby said, is the amount of property tax brought in annually by commercial, residential and tangible property taxes.
Homeowners will learn about the expected increase in residential property taxes when they receive their notice in October.
On July 1, the county property appraiser will send the amount that all of the county properties are worth to Crosby and the BOCC. On July 13, the BOCC will set the millage rate based on that figure and determine the multiplier, Crosby said.
Crosby added that home improvements such as add-ons and new pools will most likely impact the value of homes, which will in turn affect the calculated property tax.
In August property owners will receive the TRIM (Truth in Millage Rate) notice, which tells them the market value of their homes as of Jan. 1.
Property owners then have 25 days from the receipt of this notice to contact the property appraiser to dispute the amount and try to work out an adjustment.
In September, the BOCC will adopt the millage rate so the tax collector can send out tax bills on Oct. 1.
According to Crosby, the first tax payment date is Nov. 1, and those who accrue those funds in an escrow account receive a discount for paying ahead.
Crosby said the tax rate probably won't go up but property values will,and that increases the revenue for the county.
Crosby cautioned that homeowners and the BOCC need to stay prepared for housing market shifts.
"Plan for the long haul but look into the future," he said. "Be prepared for turns in the market.