Manalapan leads South County with 10.51% increase
By Mary Hladky
For the seventh year in a row, the taxable value of Palm Beach County properties has surged to a new high.
After making up the losses last year from the Great Recession, countywide taxable property values jumped 6.53 percent to $187.8 billion this year, according to the county Property Appraiser’s Office. That’s well above the pre-recession taxable value record of $169.4 billion set in 2007.
The total market value of countywide properties now is $264.7 billion, up from $251.9 billion last year.
While property values continue their upward march, experts see no sign of a housing bubble. The $263,900 median value of a Palm Beach County home in April was 18.8 percent below the pre-recession peak of $325,100, according to the national real estate website Zillow.
And while values keep rising, the rate of growth has decreased in recent years.
“Continued modest, sustainable growth indicates a healthy and stable real estate market in Palm Beach County,” Property Appraiser Dorothy Jacks said in a video announcing the 2018 valuations.
Speaking to the County Commission on June 19, Jacks said 16 new apartment complexes were added to the tax roll this year, and 20 will be added in 2019, with an average value of $50 million per project.
Those complexes accounted for more than $800 million of the total $2.4 billion in new construction added to the tax roll, she said.
“The biggest trend in Palm Beach County, apartment complexes have become the new condos,” Jacks said in the video.
As it has for the past two years, Delray Beach outpaced other cities in south Palm Beach County with a taxable value increase of 8.62 percent.
“People coming here find it to be a place they want to relocate to,” and the demand for homes pushes prices up, said Delray Beach Mayor Shelly Petrolia. “We have so much going on, an explosion almost, from single-family homes to townhomes to apartments to condos.”
Boca Raton saw a 6.32 percent rise in taxable values, while Boynton Beach was up 7.12 percent.
“Boca Raton’s unmatched quality of life makes us a great place to live and invest,” Mayor Scott Singer said in an email. “The increased valuations reflect how attractive we are.”
The overall growth leader in south Palm Beach County was Manalapan, with values up 10.51 percent to $1.4 billion.
Town Manager Linda Stumpf said the increase was due to the addition of several newly constructed high-end homes to the tax roll and the higher valuations of other homes that sold.
Property values increased 10.26 percent in Briny Breezes, 8.02 percent in Gulf Stream, 3.63 percent in Highland Beach, 7.99 percent in Lantana, 5.95 percent in Ocean Ridge and 5.36 percent in South Palm Beach.
All cities and towns in Palm Beach County saw taxable value gains. Those with the biggest jumps were tiny Cloud Lake with 16.45 percent, followed by Haverhill at 12.61 percent. The smallest increases were Highland Beach’s and 2.67 percent in the Village of Golf.
The drivers of growth, beyond new apartment complexes, are downtown development in Delray Beach, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach and Lake Worth, as well as the construction of new hotels, Jacks told the County Commission.
“Values in the [downtown] cores are rising very quickly,” she said.
Unlike Broward County, which is largely built out, land is available in Palm Beach County and there is a demand for new housing in the western parts of the county, Jacks said.
New apartments set trend
The largest additions to the tax roll in Delray Beach, Boynton Beach and Boca Raton illustrate the trends.
In Delray Beach, the top additions include the $80 million expansion of Delray Medical Center, the 248-apartment Delray Station at 1720 Depot Ave. and the 146-apartment Caspian Delray at 190 SE Fifth Ave. in the downtown, said Dino Maniotis, tax roll coordinator for the Property Appraiser’s Office.
In Boynton Beach, the largest additions included the 80-apartment Quantum Lake Villas at 2700 Quantum Lakes Drive, the 350-apartment Cortina at the intersection of Congress Avenue and Old Boynton Road, and the 93-room Holiday Inn Express at 2001 W. Ocean Drive.
In Boca Raton, the top four are the 378-apartment Palmetto Promenade at 333 E. Palmetto Park Road in the downtown, the 370-apartment Residences at Broken Sound at 5500 Broken Sound Blvd., and the 282-apartment Allure Boca Raton and 400-apartment Altis Boca Raton, both in the former Arvida Park of Commerce, now called The Park at Broken Sound.
Local governments use the tax roll numbers to begin calculating how much property tax money they can expect in the coming year, so they can set their annual budgets and 2018-2019 tax rates.
That process will end in mid- to late September, before the Oct. 1 start of the new fiscal year.
An increase in taxable value means the county, cities and towns will collect more money from property owners in 2018-2019 even if they keep their tax rates the same as in 2017-2018.
Elected officials can increase the tax rates even though property values have risen, but they typically don’t want to anger taxpayers by doing that. They often opt to decrease rates a small amount so they can say they have lowered taxes even though their tax revenues will rise.
Officials contacted by The Coastal Star in June either did not comment or would not say whether they are considering keeping tax rates the same or lowering them because they had not finalized budgets for the new fiscal year.
Petrolia said decision-making this year is complicated by a state constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would create another $25,000 homestead exemption, which is expected to pass and would cut city and county property tax revenues.
“I will probably be more conservative this year,” Petrolia said.