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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Jackson County Citizens To Get No Tax Relief

Jackson County one of few counties in State with increased assessments
By Sid Riley
There was no housing bubble which suddenly burst last year in Jackson County according to Jackson County Property Appraiser Sharon Cox. In fact, property values increased by 4.8%, making Jackson County one of the few counties in the state to incur increased ad valorem taxation in the new tax rolls which are currently being submitted for certification. Across the state, it was not uncommon for many counties to realize property tax reductions in excess of 20%
Among some other panhandle area counties the reductions in property evaluations were quite dramatic. In Gulf County property assessments fell a whopping 24%, in Franklin County the decline was 22% and in Walton County the fall was 15%. Here at home, even though the real estate market has been almost dormant since last November, our Property Appraisers feel the values of our properties has increased over last year’s assessments. This new tax roll has been submitted for certification approval to the State.
When considering the property assessments in Jackson County, one must realize that our area was never really involved in the tremendous surge in speculation, risk taking, and tremendous rate of increases in property values during the boom years from 2003 through 2008. Although significant increases in values did occur in Jackson County, these gains were small in relationship to what occurred in resort areas around Florida. Additionally, Property Appraiser Sharon Cox has demonstrated that during the first half of 2008, property values in Jackson County showed no declines.
The remaining unknown in the determination of how high your property tax bill will be next year is the determination of the final millage rate which will be applied to these values. With the county government, the school system, and most municipalities all scrambling for revenues, there is little hope for any decreases in millage rates. In fact, the school board has already approved a resolution of intent to accept a .25 mil increase in next years school millage.
These local tax increases are being implemented even though foreclosures and delinquent tax certificate sales for last years taxes are at all time highs. Add to this situation the dramatically increasing cost of local electricity, gasoline prices, and steadily increasing food and insurance costs….and you have a general population which is suffering under increasing financial strain, and apparently facing even higher taxation next year.

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