Increasing property values: positive news for Nassau County

Submitted by Jimmy L. Higginbotham and Robert W. Spaeth
 Co-Chairs, Citizens for a Better Nassau County

The recent announcement from the Nassau County Property Appraiser’s Office, projecting an increase in property values, is positive news for our local real estate market and for property owners in general who are building net equity. If history repeats itself, however, this kind of news typically is followed by a couple of our elected leaders dancing in the end zone, claiming the county is in good financial health, that we’ll be “debt free in under 15 years,” and that county coffers are flush with cash.

While it’s true that county revenue is on the rise again, we’ve stressed time and time again that revenue is only part of the equation. The whole truth is that county expenses continue to increase faster than revenues received and have for quite some time, creating a big financial hole. Why, you might ask? Simply put, our population continues to grow, crowding our schools and roads and taxing other government infrastructure and services.

At a median single family home value in Nassau County today of $197,625, a typical residence consumes far more in government services than it pays in property taxes, and we’re not even accounting for the residential taxpayers’ share of long deferred and unmet capital needs. We’ll cover that issue in a future opinion piece. Does this sound financially sustainable to you? To more accurately reflect the county’s financial revenue metric over time, it is best measured by looking at revenue per capita served.

Given Nassau County’s over dependence upon residential property taxes, it will take a long time for the county to fully recover from the Great Recession. While total market value of properties are higher than 10 years ago and taxable values are getting close to where they were before the market downturn, the costs of serving our growing population (now more than 76,000 people) have grown dramatically over that time.

Until we better balance our residential development with private capital investments in non-residential office, industrial, and commercial land uses that cannot be homesteaded and capped under Florida’s “Save our Homes Amendment,” Nassau County will continue to be on shaky financial ground. It’s simply a fact that office, industrial and commercial property pays far more in taxes than it consumes in government services. Think about that the next time someone complains about local economic development. If you don’t want your residential property taxes to go up, the county had better broaden and diversify the tax base.

While a number of important steps have been taken to set Nassau County on a better financial path, we have a long way to go to get to fiscal sustainability. As pointed out in the Property Appraiser’s report, new construction in our county (and particularly the non-residential construction that cannot be homesteaded and capped) is indeed a bright spot. A long-term commitment to job creation and balanced growth will remain vital to the county’s ability to address our growing pains and to make necessary investments in our schools, parks, transportation infrastructure and the many other demands placed upon local government from the dramatic residential growth we’ve already experienced.

Retired Nassau County Commissioner Jimmy L. Higginbotham and Retired Businessman Robert W. Spaeth are co-chairs of ‘Citizens for a Better Nassau County.’ For more information, please visit

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Medardo Monzon
Medardo Monzon(@mmonzon)
6 years ago

However, if private capital investments are accompanied by generous tax incentives or tax breaks, as it’s often the case, little to nothing will be accomplished or the situation can actually worsen.

Vince Carvallo
Vince Carvallo(@grandvin)
6 years ago

This is like the chicken verses the egg argument. Entice more development in an effort to raise the property tax base while having to underwrite the increase in population through infrastructure and social enhancements. Meanwhile, quality of life for long term residents erodes.

Dennis Jay
Dennis Jay(@dennisjay)
6 years ago

Once the Citizens for a Better Nassau County get their way and we become an over-developed land mass like every other place in Florida, perhaps they should change their name to Citizens for a Bitter Nassau County because that’s likely how people will feel at that point.

Klynt A. Farmer
Klynt A. Farmer (@guest_49088)
6 years ago

501C4 funded by “dark money” and peddled by old politicians. This group is “out of gas”…..