Property Appraiser Nikolits dubs Palm Beach County tax policies “Ugly”


Palm Beach County is the sole member of Property Appraiser Gary Nikolits’ “Just Plain Ugly” club of taxing entities, Nikolits said Wednesday at a talk to the Economic Forum of Palm Beach County.

He said it’s because the county is proposing an $87 million tax increase, has raised increased taxes by $185 million over the past three years, and this year took total taxes across the $1 billion mark for the first time.

“So congratulations to Palm Beach County. We all appreciate paying higher taxes,” Nikolits quipped at the gathering, at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts.

Nikolits provided his third annual “Good, Bad and Just Plain Ugly” listings for the county’s taxing entities. Past recipients were the cities of Wellington in 2014 and West Palm Beach in 2013.

Nikolits said nine “Good” entities plan to either charge no tax or roll back their tax rate so that, even with increases in property values, individual taxes would be unchanged. Cloud Lake, Glen Ridge, and the Port of Palm Beach taxing district are not taxing residents. Hypoluxo, Jupiter Inlet District, Juno Beach, South Florida Water Management District, Lake Park and Jupiter Fire-Rescue cut their tax rates so that taxes stayed at or below that collected in the previous year.

He called the county’s remaining 43 entities “Bad,” saying their proposed tax rates are the same, but homeowners still would pay more because property values have increased, or the entities actually propose to raise rates.

That left the “Ugly.”

“This is the first I heard that we were going to be called by the property appraiser ‘ugly,’” said County Mayor Shelley Vana, who was at the event.

She said the commission stands by its proposed budget. And she made a little dig back at Nikolits, who had noted he recently sold a property in northern Palm Beach County at a six-figure profit. She said Nikolits should thank the county government for making the area so great that property values are increasing.

Vana, meanwhile, is off the commission in 2016 because of term limits, and has said she’ll seek Nikolits’ post. Nikolits announced to his staff in May he will not seek a seventh term in 2016. A few days later, his longtime assistant, Dorothy Jacks, filed to replace him.

Nikolits said Wednesday that property values are coming back, but slowly.

Nikolits laid out how far the county’s come since the economy —specifically real estate — tanked around 2008. From 2002 to 2006, he said, the county added nearly 70,000 parcels: entities created by dividing or developing land. In 2006 alone, it added more than 16,000. In the past six years, it added just 5,600.

Interestingly construction of homes isn’t keeping up with the new demand, Nikolits said.

“It’s definitely a seller’s market out there,” he said. “It’s hard to find a piece of property to buy that somebody doesn’t have an offer on.”



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