County has weathered pandemic ‘very well,’ appraiser reports
By Mary Hladky
Undeterred by the coronavirus pandemic, the taxable value of Palm Beach County properties has increased for the 10th year in a row.
Estimates released by the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser’s Office on May 28 showed countywide taxable property values increased by 5.05% from 2020 to 2021, less than last year’s 5.9% jump but still a strong showing.
Last year’s numbers did not reflect any impact from the pandemic because they were based on market conditions as of Jan. 1, 2020.
“We will probably look back at COVID and see it was a health crisis but not an economic crisis, at least for Palm Beach County,” Property Appraiser Dorothy Jacks said. “We actually have weathered the storm very well.”
The taxable values are preliminary and will be revised at the end of June, when they will be submitted to the state Department of Revenue. While the numbers will change as the Property Appraiser’s Office adds more properties to the tax roll and makes final calculations, the estimates give a general idea of how taxable values fared.
Last year, for example, the countywide taxable values were estimated to have increased by 5.5% but jumped to 5.9% after additional number crunching.
With the exception of Palm Beach Shores, taxable values rose in every municipality in the county as of Jan. 1 this year.
Taxable values were estimated to increase by 2.8% in Boca Raton, 4.9% in Boynton Beach and almost 5% in Delray Beach.
The estimates also showed taxable values up 9.5% in Briny Breezes, 2.5% in Gulf Stream, 2.8% in Highland Beach, 8.8% in Lantana, 7.1% in Manalapan, 4.5% in Ocean Ridge and 4% in South Palm Beach.
Countywide, the 5.05% hike translates to a total taxable value increase of $10.5 billion, up to a whopping $220.5 billion, including $3 billion in new construction added to the tax roll.
As of mid-June last year, Jacks expected that the taxable value of commercial properties such as hotels and restaurants would take a hit from the pandemic.
But since 70% of the county’s taxable value comes from residential properties, a solid residential market would offset commercial market losses, she said at the time.
While Jacks cannot yet place a number on how commercial properties will fare this year, the upswing in the residential market at the end of last year has made up for declines elsewhere, she said.
“The fourth-quarter really strong residential market offset the commercial losses to a great extent,” she said.
She anticipated taxable value reductions for hotels and entertainment venues such as movie theaters and bowling alleys, but warehousing remained strong. Restaurants were a mixed bag, with some hard-hit by the pandemic. Yet fast-food restaurants with drive-thru did well, she said.
Local governments use taxable values to calculate how much property tax money they can expect in the coming year so they can set their annual budgets and the 2021-2022 tax rates.
The fact that the pandemic had a modest impact on taxable values is good news for municipal leaders who otherwise would have to make difficult budget-cutting decisions.