Taxable property values in Lee County declined 5.3%, nearly $3 billion, from $55.5 billion to $52.6 billion as of Jan. 1. That's according to the Lee County Property Appraiser's preliminary tax roll for 2011 based on sales that occurred in calendar year 2010.
The good news is that percentage drop is nearly one-third of last year's 14.5% slide. It's also less than the 6.3% drop that Sarasota County reported recently. The biggest decline for Lee County came in 2009, when values fell by $19.6 billion, 23.2% from 2008.
The bad news, however, is that the county faces stark choices. It could continue to dip into shrinking reserves and/or increase the millage rate, the $1 per $1,000 of property value tax rate, to make up the difference. Or it could cut services.
If the preliminary figure holds, Lee County's taxable property value will have slid 45.5% since it peaked at $96.4 billion in 2007.