LEE COUNTY, Fla. - Taxable property values in Lee County are dropping even further. They've gone down about 50-billion dollars in recent years, about half the former value.
"It is stunning, and we see the numbers throughout the year," said Property Appraiser Ken Wilkinson. "But it is more understandable when you see so many houses that sold for 300-thousand, and now they are going in the 80's! That's why the market is so down."
You also can see the meltdown in the commercial buildings that sit vacant, and in the un-filled high-rise condo's along the Ft. Myers riverfront.
"The market collapse will put some more pressure on government bodies to try to balance their budgets. But that is their business. My office just computes the real sales during the year," said Wilkinson.
Values dropped for tax purposes by 15.3% across Lee Co. They went down nearly 18% in Ft. Myers, 16 in Cape Coral and 15.5% in Bonita Springs.
Governments will have to cut services, raise taxes, or use reserve funds to make up for the shortfall in tax dollars. Lee Commissioner Frank Mann suggests cutting salaries of county workers. "We have laid off 400 workers in 2 years, and cut the staff from 2400 to 2000. Now we have to look at the money those people make," said Mann.