Sunday, September 18, 2011

Property Taxes - a personal history...

A previous post highlighted the study commissioned by the city which showed 363 property owners in Lake Worth essentially pay no taxes.  Another third of all property owners pay a minimum amount since their properties are valued lower than $25,000.  Before we passed the property tax reform measure a few years ago, homestead properties we locked into a maximum increase in assessed value of no more than 3% per year.  With the passage of that referendum statewide, we now have properties that are in a state of catching up to their appraised value - now that the cap has been lifted.  So, regardless of whether or not the market value of your home has decreased over the past three or more years, your assessment is still going to go up until your assessed value meets the market value of your property.

That is what is happening above with my own example.  Even though the market value of my property value has dropped about $20,000 (and I sincerely wonder if I could get the current $167,337 for my property in the current market), my property's assessed value has increased by $6,500.  That means that my taxes, over the three years above, have increased by around $500 per year.  Now, in addition, we add the two special assessments levied by the city this year and you are adding another $300 per year (and I am sure this assessment figure will rise in the future for other things that the city can find a way to justify.)

How do these facts help the marketability of real estate in Lake Worth? - They don't.  And they won't ever if we keep depending on a property tax base that is predominantly residential and single family residential, specifically.  This is the sort of discussion that we had at the Historic Resource Preservation Board - that through implementation of a working set of land development regulations that deliver the "vision" of what we want as a community, we will be sliding backward down a steeper hill.  Additional investment in commercial (office, retail) and industrial property is needed to lessen the financial burden on all residents of Lake Worth, regardless of where they live and the value of their property.