St. Lucie County property values up but growing at slightly slower pace
By Melissa E. Holsman, Treasure Coast Newspapers June 1, 2023
ST. LUCIE COUNTY — New construction, both commercial and residential, and a high demand for single-family homes countywide brought another year of higher property values, totaling about $56.7 billion, according to 2023 preliminary estimates released by the Property Appraiser’s Office.
That’s an increase of $8.7 billion from the prior year’s tax roll of roughly $48 billion.
The estimated tax roll, which covers the 2022 calendar year, will help county, school and local officials set property-tax rates during summer budget meetings. The 2023-24 budget year begins Oct. 1.
The exception is Fort Pierce, which last year grew at a higher rate than in 2021.
“Fort Pierce has definitely seen some new construction, which is very uncommon,” Franklin said. “Fort Pierce usually is at a lower rate than the others, so the fact that they're in double digits, that was definitely a new-construction driver. Coupled with a positive real estate market, we don't want to discredit that it's been a very positive market.”
St. Lucie County's unincorporated areas saw a 13.5% increase to a $34 billion taxable value, according to preliminary figures.
The estimated increases and values for each municipality are:
- Port St. Lucie: 17%, $19 billion
- Fort Pierce: 13.5%, $3.7 billion
- St. Lucie Village: 2%, $92.9 million
2022 estimated tax roll:St. Lucie County property values increase to $29 billion; county tax rate may go down
2021 estimated tax roll:St. Lucie County property values top $25 billion
Reduced tax rates possible in unincorporated St. Lucie County
The estimated property values in the county’s unincorporated areas, which were down slightly from the 19% boost seen the year before, were about what officials had expected, said County Administrator George Landry.
“It doesn't match up to where the cost of goods and services are, but it's obviously better than a flat or no increase in the value,” he said, noting the funds will help pay for improved roads, sidewalks and water-quality projects.
During budget talks in July, Landry said, commissioners will discuss reducing the millage, or tax rate, residents pay each year.
It would be the fourth year in a row, he said, that the county has reduced the tax rate.
“We anticipate them approving a reduction this year,” Landry said. “We just don't know the amount yet.”
County spokesman Erick Gill, though, said a drop in the tax rate doesn’t guarantee a lower tax bill.
“People could still see an increase in their tax rate because their values may have gone up more than the lowering of the millage rate,” he said.
Port St. Lucie growing, but slower
The city’s estimated property values went up by $3.2 billion from 2021 to 2022, but grew at a slightly slower rate, Franklin said.
It’s still a hot housing market, she said, but properties sold at a slower rate in 2022 than in 2021. And not as many people from outside the area are buying homes “sight unseen.”
City Manger Jesus Merejo pointed to inflation and rising interest rates to explain the dip in growth compared to 2021.
“I think that had an effect on the growth here,” he said. “But I think we're still growing at a great clip compared to others.”
Southern Grove, along Interstate 95 at Becker Road and Village Parkway, leads the city’s industrial growth, he said. And the Tradition area continues to show explosive residential growth.
“It’s our fastest-growing area that we have in the city,” Merejo said.
He expects the city to keep attracting residents.
“You have … three major developers that are going to be attracting residents from all over the nation, and that’s going to continue,” he said.
Port St. Lucie will release its 2023-24 budget on June 30, but, Merejo said, it’s too soon to say if it will include a reduction in the tax rate residents will pay.
“Remember, we have a lot of challenges in the city, when it comes to safety, when it comes to a roadway system, traffic,” he said. “We're trying to address all of those opportunities for our city.”
For the past seven years, he said, the city has decreased its tax rate.
“Based upon that, you can just draw your own conclusion,” Merejo added.
New construction aiding Fort Pierce
Mayor Linda Hudson said the city is “pleased but not surprised that our property taxable value has risen to $3.7 billion.”
“Our residents have only to look to every part of our county and city to see growth and improvements. In St. Lucie County, new construction alone totaled more than $1.4 billion and increased estimated values to over $665 billion countywide,” she said in an email. “I look forward to our city commission developing a 2024 budget that delivers excellent and necessary services in the face of rising costs."
What’s driving the city’s growth, she said, is “pockets of growth" that are all over, including in the western corridors of Jenkins and Hartman roads and between Okeechobee Road and Orange Avenue around Interstate 95. The Kings Highway area is experiencing the most visible changes, added Hudson.
Melissa E. Holsman is the legal affairs reporter for TCPalm and Treasure Coast Newspapers and is writer and co-host of Uncertain Terms, a true crime podcast. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a subscriber, thank you. If not,become a subscriber to get the latest local news on the Treasure Coast.