By Mary Hladky

The taxable value of Palm Beach County properties jumped higher than Property Appraiser Dorothy Jacks estimated in May, defying fears that the coronavirus pandemic would deal a harsh blow.

The preliminary tax roll that Jacks’ office submitted to the state Department of Revenue on June 24 showed that countywide taxable values increased by 5.8% from 2020 to 2021, just under last year’s 5.9% rise and above the May estimate of 5.05%.

That translates to a total countywide taxable value of $222.1 billion, up nearly $12 billion from last year and including $3.2 billion in new construction added to the tax roll.

This marks the tenth year in a row that taxable values have increased.

Jacks had expected last year that the taxable value of commercial properties such as office buildings, hotels and restaurants would take a hit because of the pandemic.

That proved true but not across the board. Hotels and entertainment venues such as movie theaters and bowling alleys were hit hard, but warehousing remained strong. Restaurants suffered, but fast-food eateries with drive-thru did well.

The commercial declines were offset by an increase in the taxable value of residential properties which began to improve at the end of last year.

“It may be difficult to recall the uncertainty of COVID-19’s disruptions on real estate markets last spring, especially as residential values saw a strong rebound at the end of 2020,” Jacks said in announcing the updated numbers. “However, other sectors continue to recover at a slower pace.”

The valuations are good news for city officials, who now are in the process of crafting budgets and setting tax rates for the fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1.

City officials use taxable values to calculate how much property tax money they can expect in the coming year. A decline in values would have meant less tax revenue coming in, which would have forced difficult budget and tax rate decisions.

All 10 cities and towns in southeast Palm Beach County realized taxable value gains, although seven saw smaller increases than last year.

Boca Raton was up 3.8%, Boynton Beach 5.2% and Delray Beach 5.3%.

Briny Breezes increased by 10.4%, Gulf Stream 2.5%, Highland Beach 3.5%, Lantana 9.3%, Manalapan 7.2%, Ocean Ridge 4.5% and South Palm Beach 4.4%.

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