Mid-Summer 2015 Update from Nassau’s Property Appraiser

Mid-Summer 2015 Update from Nassau's Property AppraiserNassau County, FL – “Thank you again for the opportunity you have given me to serve as your Property Appraiser. It truly is an honor and a privilege. For the third year in row we have reduced our expenses by cutting waste, cross training staff, outsourcing work, and embracing technology. We will continue to look for ways to improve our efficiency, save tax dollars, and offer the very best in customer service. I want to thank the other Constitutional Officers; Supervisor of Elections, Vicki Cannon; Tax Collector, John Drew, and Sheriff Bill Leeper for working with us on inter-local agreements which result in the sharing of staff and resources that have helped reduce our expenses and ultimately save tax dollars.

In 2014, we assumed the responsibility of 911 addressing which had previously been handled by the Sheriff’s office. This enabled us to have one unified GIS map for the County and allowed the Sheriff to reduce his staff size without a net increase to our staff. We also implemented an online homestead exemption option. You can now file for homestead exemption from the comfort and convenience of your home or office.

The 2015 assessment roll was recently approved by the Department of Revenue for Nassau County and reflects an increase in the taxable value for a second year in a row. Strong sales activity during 2014 has helped stabilize the local market by reducing inventory and shifting the market from a buyer’s market to a seller’s market in some price ranges. The value increase is directly related to supply and demand economics, historically low interest rates, and increase in new construction.

New construction during 2014 has added over $140 million of building value to the tax roll.

It is the statutory responsibility of the Property Appraiser’s Office to list and appraise all properties within the County to a fair market value every year and to administer property tax exemptions. It is the commitment of this office to execute the duties and responsibilities of the office of Property Appraiser in a fair and equitable manner. Therefore, we have continued to work hard to correct inconsistencies in the way property had been appraised in the past and to try and make sure we are not appraising property for more than it could reasonably sell for in the open market. The market value for 2015 is up by more than 6% compared to 2014, while the taxable value is up more than 5%. This is good news for Nassau County because it helps restore equity to property owners who lost value during the recession. Properties with homestead exemption are protected by the “Save Our Homes” Amendment which caps the amount of increase to the assessed value to no more than 3%, or the consumer price index, whichever is lower. For 2015 the increase is capped at .8%. Also, it should be noted that higher property values do not necessarily mean a tax increase. Local taxing authorities have the option to use the “Roll Back Rate” which would keep taxes at their current level.

During the next few weeks, all property owners will receive their notice of proposed property taxes, also known as the Truth in Millage (TRIM) notice. This notice will give you your 2015 values and list any exemptions you have applied and been approved for. If you believe your property is worth less than the Market Value stated on the notice, please call or email our office to discuss. We will be glad to review and get back with you. It is the goal of this office to be efficient, consistent, and fair with all property owners. I am happy to meet with you personally.

As Property Appraiser I appreciate the opportunity you have given me and I am here to continue serving you to the best of my ability.”

A. Michael Hickox
Nassau County Property Appraiser

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Property Appraiser Employees Receive Certification

Property Appraiser Employees Receive Certification Nassau County, FL – As of February 1st, Condo Specialist Jackie Wagner and Public Information Officer Justin Taylor are Certified Florida Evaluators (C.F.E.), a designation earned by completing Department of Revenue approved courses administered by the International Association of Assessing Officers.

The Property Appraiser employees received their certification after completing various courses which included Real Property Appraisal, Income Approach to Valuation, Appraisal of Land, and Fundamentals of Mass Appraisal. There are currently 14 employees in the Property Appraiser’s Office who hold the state approved designation.

In addition to their newly obtained C.F.E. designation, Jackie Wagner has her State Certified Residential Appraisal license and Justin Taylor has his Florida Real Estate license.

(Pictured from L-R: Property Appraiser Mike Hickox, Jackie Wagner, and Justin Taylor)

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Property Appraiser Launches Online Homestead Exemption Filing

Property Appraiser Launches Online Homestead Exemption FilingNassau County, FL – Property Appraiser Mike Hickox announced this week the launch of online filing for homestead exemption.

Homestead exemption is a constitutional guarantee that reduces the taxable value of residential property for qualified residents. If you own property in Nassau County and it is your primary residence, you may qualify for an exemption of up to $50,000 off your assessed value. Per Florida Statutes, homeowners must own and occupy the residence prior to January 1st in order to receive the benefit for 2015.

In the past, homeowners were required to bring the necessary documents to the Property Appraiser’s Office in order to make application. Now, with the new online feature, applicants can file at their leisure by visiting the Property Appraiser’s website, www.NassauFLPA.com. “This is a customer service initiative that will make the process easier and less time consuming for the homeowner,” said Hickox.

Less than half of all 67 Property Appraiser’s in the state offer online homestead exemption filing. “Many homeowners have to rearrange their day just to come apply,” said Hickox. “With our online filing, they will no longer be inconvenienced.”

Justin Taylor, Public Information Officer for the Property Appraiser, agrees this will be a huge benefit for the homeowner. “We receive several calls a day from people who need to file for the exemption, but don’t have the time. We hope to get a couple hundred applications online before the March 1st deadline.”

In 2014, the Property Appraiser’s Office received over 1,400 applications for homestead. This number is up from the 1,000 applications that were taken in 2013. “We are in a county that is growing by the minute,” said Hickox. “Property owners should know of their tax benefits and it’s our job to make the process as simple as possible.”

Currently, homeowners are not able to file for the additional senior, disability, or widow/widower exemptions. In order to file for those exemptions, homeowners will still need to apply in one of the Property Appraiser’s Offices.

Deadline to file for any property tax exemption is March 1st, 2015. For questions, please contact the Property Appraiser’s Office at 904-491-7300.

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What to Expect When the Property Appraiser Comes for Inspection

What to Expect When the Property Appraiser Comes for InspectionNassau County, FL – Throughout the year, the Nassau County Property Appraiser’s Office receives calls about our staff visiting properties. Florida Statutes require our field staff to visit each property once every five years. We do this in an effort to fairly assess properties in an efficient and consistent manner.

To make you aware, and to help you feel safe, here’s what you can expect when a member of our field staff comes to your home:

-They will show up in a pickup truck with our office logo on the side and yellow county license plate.
-Our field staff will wear a polo style shirt bearing our logo and they will have a lanyard around their neck with identifying credentials.
-They will knock on your door and thoroughly explain the reason for their visit. Reasoning may include a routine check, which we complete every 5 years, or to assess new construction or an addition to your property.
-They will take a front and rear photograph of the property and any new additions. They do not need to enter your home.
-Our field staff will always leave a business card with you that includes their name and our office phone number.
-Always, and most importantly, our field staff will be courteous and respectful to every property owner.

If you are approached by someone claiming to be from our office, please ask them to show you their identification. If they are inquiring about your property or surrounding properties and they do not meet the description of anyone from our office and their vehicle was not one of our county trucks, please call our office immediately 904-491-7300.

Should you have any questions or concerns when a member from our office visits your property, please give us a call. We are here to help.

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Property Appraiser to take on Addressing Duties

Property Appraiser to take on Addressing DutiesNassau County, FL – Effective October 1st, the Nassau County Property Appraiser’s Office will assume the addressing and street naming duties currently coordinated by the Sheriff’s Office.

For ten years property owners and developers have been accustomed to going to the Sheriff’s Office to request name changes of existing or unnamed roadways and to get address assignments for building permits. Now, they will go to the Property Appraiser’s Office in Yulee, which is next door to the Building Department. If a property owner wishes to name a roadway, they must submit an application to the Property Appraiser’s GIS Addressing Department. Applications can be found by visiting www.nassauflpa.com after October 1st.

The Board of County Commissioners unanimously agreed at their September 8th meeting to approve the new ordinance, which will move services and reallocate funding for addressing and street naming to the Property Appraiser’s Office. “This gives us an opportunity to join two GIS data systems together into one unified system,” said Property Appraiser Mike Hickox. “This has been a collaborative effort between Sheriff Leeper and myself to make the process more efficient while ultimately saving taxpayer dollars.”

GIS stands for Geographic Information Systems and is designed to capture, store, manage, and analyze spatial or geographical data. The GIS Director, Jason Gregory, manages the database for the Property Appraiser’s Office and provides his expertise to other departments such as the Supervisor of Elections and Board of County Commissioners. Gregory earned his Bachelor of Science in Geographic Technologies from the University of Florida and began with the Property Appraiser’s Office in 2010.

The Property Appraiser’s Office currently manages the base layer map of parcel data for the entire county. Approximately 28 layers are in the Property Appraiser’s GIS database which includes public safety, utilities, and planning and zoning overlays. The Property Appraiser’s GIS system is frequently visited by property owners using the website with thousands of visits per month.

While the Property Appraiser and Sheriff both believe this will be a savings to the county, they are still working with the County’s budget office to determine the amount, which is expected to be $50,000 – $100,000 a year.

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Apply for Homestead Exemption before March 1, 2014

Apply for Homestead Exemption before March 1, 2014Nassau County, FL – Property Appraiser Mike Hickox would like to remind new property owners to file for their 2014 exemptions by March 1st.

If you own property in Nassau County and it is your primary residence, you may qualify for an exemption of up to $50,000 off your assessed value. In order to qualify you must bring the necessary documents to the Property Appraiser’s Office and make application prior to March 1st.

“We encourage all new homeowners to apply”, said Hickox. “The reduction in value will save hundreds of dollars off their annual taxes.” Based on current millage rates, if the assessed value is $100,000, the tax savings could be as much as $800 for Fernandina City residents, $500 for County and Hilliard residents, and $600 for Callahan residents.

If an owner previously had homestead exemption on another property in Florida within the past two years, they may be eligible for the Save Our Homes benefit from their previous property.

Save Our Homes, which took effect in 1994, states that assessed values on homestead properties could increase no more than 3% per year or the percentage of change in the Consumer Price Index, whichever is lower. Essentially, a homeowner may transfer their Save Our Homes benefit, or a portion thereof up to $500,000, to a new homestead anywhere in Florida.

Senior citizens may be eligible for a property tax break in addition to their homestead exemption. Those individuals who are 65 years or older and meet the state mandated household income requirement for that tax year may qualify for the senior exemption, allowing $50,000 off their assessed value. The adjusted gross household income requirement for exemption in 2014 is $27,994.

Other property tax breaks include, Disabled Veterans Exemption, Agriculture Exemption, and Disability Exemption. 2014 is also the first year that qualified individuals can take advantage of the new senior exemption, allowing a permanent tax break for those who meet requirements. Seniors who are 65 and older, have a household income of approximately less than $28,000, own a home with a market value less than $250,000, and have lived in the home for more than 25 years are eligible for the new exemption.

Information on what is needed to qualify can be found on the Property Appraiser’s website at www.nassauflpa.com, under the Exemptions tab. Please call the Property Appraiser’s Office at 904-491-7300 for more information.

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