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Volusia County’s overall property values and the tax base have reached new record highs. 

“It’s no surprise for a county with all the advantages that Volusia has,” Property Appraiser Larry Bartlett said. 

Bartlett was referring to the 2021 pre-preliminary tax roll his agency has just released, showing the estimated total worth of all Volusia County real estate — taxable and nontaxable — is $68.5 billion, a value 7.3 percent higher than in 2020. 

The just value is the total estimated market value of all real property — homes, land, farms, businesses, utilities, and institutional parcels such as schools, colleges, jails, churches, hospitals, governmental buildings, and parks. 

The taxable value, also known as the tax base or tax roll, includes all properties subject to ad valorem taxation, either wholly or partially. For-profit businesses, rental homes and apartments and manufacturing facilities are examples of properties that generally have no exemptions from taxation. Agricultural parcels are taxed at lower rates. 

Many exemptions from taxation apply to primary residences, including homestead exemptions, and exemptions for homeowners with disabilities, widows and low-income elderly people. The taxable value counts residential values, less these exemptions. 

— Al Everson 

Taxable values are at $42.7 billion, which is 7.4 percent higher than 2020. 

Local governments will use these figures to determine their tax rates and budgets for the coming fiscal year. The numbers could rise again before the release of the preliminary tax roll on or before July 1 and certification of the final 2021 tax roll in October. 

“We always have numbers changing. We always look at new numbers,” Deputy Appraiser Jan Cornelius said. 

Some cities have logged sizable increases in the value of their ad valorem tax base over the past year. 

  • DeBary — $2.5 billion in 2021, an 8.9-percent increase 
  • DeLand — $2.28 billion in 2021, an 8.24-percent increase 
  • Deltona — $3.36 billion in 2021, a 14.72-percent increase 
  • Lake Helen — $129 million in 2021, a 10.52-percent increase 
  • Orange City — $908.8 million in 2021, a 9.93-percent increase 
  • Pierson — $62.23 million in 2021, a 10.25-percent increase 

The demand for places to live, work, play or retire in Volusia County is surging, a trend that now shows no sign of abating. Bartlett noted the trend can be attributed to “wonderful weather, 47 miles of beach, no state income tax, and the intersection of two interstate highways.” 

The county is enjoying migration from more-urban areas and colder climates. 

“I think people are fed up with living in a big city. A lot of people can work from home if they have a computer,” Bartlett noted. 

OVER THE YEARS — Data from the Volusia County Property Appraiser at left shows just and taxable property values from 1998 to 2021 measured in increments of $10 billion. The just value is the total estimated market value of all real property, from homes to farms to schools. The taxable value, sometimes called the tax base or tax roll, includes properties subject to ad valorem taxes. 

The real estate market and the tax base are rising, despite the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Hotels were hurt. Restaurants were hurt. Places were forcibly closed,” Bartlett said. “Unfortunately, some of the smaller businesses closed [permanently].” 

While there was a slowdown in the commercial sector, he added, housing forged ahead and is still going strong. 

“Thanks to residential real estate, it’s the engine that is pulling us through,” Bartlett said. 

When taxable values rise overall, it could mean lower taxes for some property owners, because local governments can charge less and still get more. 

However, instead of lowering taxes, local governments often use the rising values to increase their income, sometimes for special projects or to meet rising costs. 

Here’s an example: Let’s say your home had a taxable value of $200,000 in 2020. The property is in DeLand, which had an 8.24-percent increase in values this year, so your home’s taxable value this year likely will rise to $206,000. 

An 8.24-increase in value would actually be $216,840, but the Save Our Homes law caps your increase at 3 percent per year. 

DeLand’s millage rate in 2020 was 6.7841. The millage rate is the amount charged per $1,000 of taxable value, so about $6.78 per $1,000. 

In 2020, your DeLand property taxes were probably about $1,357. 

If the DeLand City Commission keeps that same millage rate for next year, you would pay about $1,398, or a little more than $40 more, because of the increase in your property’s value. 

That may not sound like much, but when multiplied by thousands of properties — including those not protected by Save Our Homes — it can mean significant additional revenue for local governments. 

The West Volusia cities and Volusia County government will be designing their budgets this summer, and finalizing the rates in early fall. Stay tuned; The Beacon will be at those budget meetings, helping keep you informed about your local leaders’ plans for taxes. 

— Barb Shepherd 

As values climb to new records, how much of the increase is due to what may be considered “normal” growth, in contrast to the rough-and-tumble market in which prices for building materials are skyrocketing while the waves of homebuyers swell daily? 

“We just go by what the market tells us,” Bartlett said. “Supply and demand is the age-old decider. Every time supply is low, the price goes up.” 

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