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Levy County Property Appraiser had good news when he addressed the Chiefland Rotary Club last week: Property values which have been declining at a rapid rate since the recession started in 2008 have started to stabilize, and, in some cases, started to rise.
But he does not want anyone to think they are going to zoom up the way they did before 2008. This will be a slow crawl.
“The preliminary tax toll of county property value is $1,582,078,088,” Barker told the Rotarians. That's “a slight increase” of about $19 million more than last year's values.
The estimated value of Levy County property last year was $1,562,967,784.
Schools are a big beneficiary of the increase because without the second $25,000 exemption on homestead properties the Levy County School Board is looking at a $26 million increase in values.
By city and taxing authorities, these are the estimated taxable values for property, as of June 1 and the actual property taxable value in 2013:
• Bronson - $32.6 million in 2014; $32,798,144 in 2013;
• Cedar Key - $130.5 million in 2014; $129,896,860 in 2013;
• Cedar Key Water & Sewer - $158.1 million in 2014; $156,892,653 in 2013;
• Chiefland - $125 million in 2014; $125,262,900 in 2013;
• Fanning Springs - $20 million in 2014; $20,320,213 in 2013;
• Inglis - $61.4 million in 2014; $61,301,737 in 2013;
• Otter Creek - $6.270 million in 2014; $6,663,250 in 2013;
• Rainbow Lakes - $6,320 million in 2013; $5,678,433 in 2013;
• Levy County School Board - $1.717 million in 2014; $1,713,492,605 in 2013;
• Suwannee Water - $819 million in 2014; $823,358,811 in 2013;
• Southwest Water - $771 million in 2014; #765,677,049 in 2013;
• Williston - $91 million in 2014; $90,789,524 in 2013;
• Yankeetown - $51.1 million in 2014; $51,083,551 in 2013.
Barker said while Chiefland land values are down by about $117,000, he said the market has flattened out and he expects to see a rise in the future.
“We're flattening out. We're seeing a lot less foreclosures,” Barker said. “The stress in the market is going out.” South Florida's real estate market has turned and is starting to boom again, and Levy usually follows that by a few years, he said,
Barker said the county is also outsourcing the work on utility properties — used for gas and power transmission. The value of these tangible properties “amounts to a pretty good bit of revenue too — $26.2 million in value,” Barker said.
“For $9,000 per year we get the work done and we don't get challenged because of that,” Barker said. The contractor does only utility property valuations. Barker said the utility companies turn in what they think the tangible value is and the contractor “usually goes up on that.” This category also includes cell towers whose users must pay tangible property taxes.
“But we try to keep it as friendly as we can,” he said.
As for his biggest challenge, its land for agricultural exemptions, Barker said. Of the 720,000 acres in the county, 485,000 is agricultural. “Commercial intent is the biggest thing I want to see,” Barker said.
He said there has been at least one instance of a person seeking an ag exemption for a cattle business but the land had no fence. “That's a lot of what I see,” Barker said.
“Many people think once they got it, it's done,” Barker said. But the exemption can be reviewed at a future date, Barker said.