Big dirt pile; more development on the way

CLEARING THE WAY FOR MORE HUMAN HABITAT — Despite the pandemic and its economic repercussions, the home-construction boom in Central Florida continues at a fast clip. Shown on Deltona's south side is acreage destined to become Courtland Park, a subdivision of 196 single-family homes. Courtland Park is one of several new residential developments already underway or on the drafting table in Deltona, already the largest city in Volusia County, and the second largest in East Central Florida.

There is some good news for anyone looking to seek a home in Volusia County.

Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and related woes such as unemployment and diminished shopping in many retail stores, property values and prices are mostly on the upswing. More people are coming to call Florida home, and the homebuilding boom continues.

“Our current 2021 working just value is $64.4 billion,” Volusia County Property Appraiser Larry Bartlett said, predicting an increase in the coming months. “We set a record in 2007, and we set a new record last year, 2020, and we’re going to break it again this year.”

The just value refers to the total estimated market value of all real estate in Volusia County — including homes, businesses, farms, developed and undeveloped land, industries, government buildings, schools, colleges, churches and hospitals. The just value includes tax-exempt properties, as well as those subject to ad valorem taxation.

Bartlett and his staff are calculating the just value, before subtracting the tax exemptions — whether partial such as homestead exemptions or total such as those of government agencies, or churches and other nonprofit organizations — to determine the county’s taxable value, also known as the tax roll or tax base. The estimated tax roll is $40 billion and growing.

The tax base, or taxable value, usually equals about 60 percent of the just value.

Bartlett noted the pandemic-related shutdowns of many businesses took a toll on commercial properties. Those closings do affect the taxable value.

“We can take into account the effect on hotels, restaurants, and other businesses,” he said. “We look at income statements. They will have to show us how much they suffered.”

Bartlett added he and property appraisers for other counties in Florida are planning to go to Tallahassee to ask the Legislature to enact relief for business owners.

“It’s along the lines of a hurricane or a natural disaster. This pandemic is a natural disaster,” he said.

Despite the losses in value of many businesses during the spring lockdown and the slow reopening, Bartlett said the continuing boom in housing will probably exceed the losses in commercial value, thus pushing the tax roll to new highs.

Florida is now the third-largest state in the union, and an estimated 1,000 new settlers arrive each day. Bartlett sees homebuyers and sellers capitalizing on the influx.

“Inventories are low, and credit is cheap,” he concluded.