Longboat Key leaders will head into their budget discussions this month understanding that the value of residential and commercial property on which taxes will be based has never been higher.
Preliminary estimates from the property appraisers’ offices in Manatee and Sarasota counties show a combined taxable valuation for property in the town of $7.34 billion, an increase of about 13.5% from last year. The total is about $700 million higher than the previous high of $6.6 billion at the height of the 2008 housing-value run up.
Broken down by county, Sarasota values are up 13.31% to $5.04 billion and Manatee values are up 13.92% to $2.3 billion.
The numbers from the two tax appraisers’ offices confirm earlier informal estimates of double-digit increases in valuations, Town Manager Tom Harmer told commissioners last week.
"At the first budget workshop we were expecting an increase of approximately 13% so these numbers are in line with our original forecast," he said. "It is expected that the numbers may change slightly between now and July 1, but are good planning estimates going into our next budget workshop."
The tax appraisers will formalize their calculations by the first day in July and submit them to the town. On the same day, the Town Commission will meet to set a not-to-exceed millage rate, which could be reduced to account for the sharp rise in values.
At the town’s first budget workshop of the season in May week, town commissioners raised the possibility of reducing the rate on which property taxes are paid. If that happens, it would be the first change in the town’s general fund millage rate of 2.1144 since the 2017 budget. Town properties rose 5.99% in taxable value for the 2021 budget compared to the year before.
“We’ve talked internally, with the increase in the tax base that a decrease in the operating millage is likely,” Harmer said then.
If the town's tax rate was left unchanged, property taxes would deliver around $14.8 million in revenue for the fiscal year 2023 budget, compared to about $13.1 million based on the previous year's valuations fed into the 2022 fiscal year budget.
In May, Chief Deputy Tax Appraiser Brian Loughery said values of homesteaded properties, which make up about a third of the town residences, will likely rise by the maximum allowed 3% and non-homesteaded properties by the maximum 10%. For sales of properties that took place in 2021, unless the owners bring homestead portability from their previous Florida property, the taxable value will likely rise to about 85%-88% of the sales price.
Loughery said this tax season is the first in the last 10 in which the taxable values for homesteaded properties have reached the 3% limit, saying they are typically risen by 1-2%.
The five parcels that make up the property on which The Residences at the St. Regis Longboat Key Resort is also rising in value as work progresses. Loughery told commissioners the property would likely be valued for this budget cycle at around $60 million. In 2021, the just value for the 244 individual parcels were $36,285,500.
If the project is completed as expected in spring 2024, its full value would be on the tax rolls for the 2025 budget season.