Gulf County tax roll continues to grow

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Dennis Barfield has been working at the Gulf County Property Appraiser’s Office since about 2010.

The growth in this year’s tax rolls, he said, has been exceptional.

“Our current preliminary tax roll, right now, we will submit it next week, is about $2.5 billion. That is the highest we’ve seen since 2008,” said Barfield before a large group of gathered citizens at the June 25 South Gulf County Coastal Communities Association meeting.

The tax rolls are up 22.7 percent from where it was last year, or about $464 million, according tp Barfield. This number is likely to continue to grow even after the preliminary roll is submitted to the state, as the Property Appraiser’s Office continues to work on the tax rolls until about August 15.

In the city of Port St. Joe, the tax rolls have grown by 24 percent in the last year, with high rates of construction by groups like truland homes and D.R. Horten.

Port St. Joe’s tax rolls have increased by about 50 percent since 2018.

“It’s probably the fastest growing market we’ve seen since the 2004 to 2006 period… That was kind of a speculation-driven market. There weren’t a whole bunch of people moving in here. What we’re seeing now though is a shift where people are actually coming to stay.”

“...We’re seeing people move to the city, and they’re staying. We’re seeing people move to the Cape, and they’re staying. We’re seeing people move to Indian Pass, and they’re staying for the first time. Fewer people are treating these homes as investment properties. It’s good for the stability of the market.”

A large reason for the increase, Barfield said, is a large rise in the median price of a home in the county and across the state.

“We get to go to these conferences every year, and they tell us about how the Florida market is growing, and one of the things they told us this year is that the state of the inventory in Florida is about 30,000 homes at any given time. 

The problem is we have about 30,000 people moving here a month, so that’s a 1:1 ration, and there is no inventory.”

Prices in Port St. Joe’s city limits are now rising to be comparable with those in areas like St. Joe Beach.

Barfield said while he hears a lot of fears about a market crash similar to the one in the mid-2000s, he does not believe that that will be the case following this growth.

Rather, he said he sees the market eventually stagnating, which can already be seen in the slightly lower growth rates in 2022 than in 2021.

“We’re back to having our quarterly sales back to where they were in the early 2020 period. We’re not quite where we were last year, so the numbers I’m giving you are actually based on last year’s market,” Barfield said. “I have a feeling when the tax rolls come out this year, I don't think we’re going down, but I think you’re going to see us level off a lot more than this quick growth we’re seeing.”

“I think we’ll have growth, but probably not at the same rate.”

Gulf County’s preliminary tax rolls are supposed to be submitted this week. 

County budgeting processes are already underway, with officials expected to begin drafting a budget in July. The county’s first budget hearing has been scheduled for Monday, July 18.

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