TRIM notices out today; here's what they mean

Published August 18, 2006

Today, the notice of proposed property taxes will be mailed to the owners of more than 124,000 parcels in Hernando County, including residential, commercial and tangible personal properties. The Property Appraiser's Office wants you to know the full amount due for various taxes and which taxing authorities levy those taxes.

As an additional service for taxpayers, this is the first year that your notice of proposed taxes, also known as the Truth in Millage notice, will include non-ad valorem assessments (i.e., solid waste, fire, lighting, community development districts, which will be shown at the bottom of the notice.

The Property Appraiser's Office does not set your tax rates. We only establish the market value of your property. The taxing authorities in the jurisdiction your property lies in set the millage rates that determine the amount of taxes you will be required to pay.

If you have any questions about your market value or exemption(s), please call this office before the petition filing deadline (Sept. 12) to meet with an appraiser or exemption specialist. If you do not receive your notice in August, please be sure to call our office to verify that we have your correct mailing address on file.

If you purchased a homestead property last year in 2005, you may see a substantial increase in the taxes due to the increase in sale prices, as well as the home's loss of the Save Our Homes 3 percent cap. Whenever a homestead property sells, the assessed value increases to the current fair market value on Jan. 1 of the year after the sale. Property values in Hernando County hit a record high this year, a $2.2-billion dollar increase in taxable value over last year's taxable value, totaling $9.9-billion.

The total assessed value saved by Hernando County residents on homestead property also has increased to more than $3.6-billion. This includes homestead and personal exemptions, as well as the Save Our Homes 3 percent assessment cap.

The following are answers to some frequently asked questions about property values:

What is market value?

Florida law requires that "just value" of all property be determined each year. The Florida Supreme Court has declared just value to be legally synonymous with full cash value and fair market value.

How is my property value determined?

The Property Appraiser's Office analyzes the county's market transactions every year to determine each property's fair market value effective Jan. 1. Your property's fair market value can be determined by employing one or more of the following three approaches to value: cost, market or sales comparison, or income. Keep in mind, however, the best evidence of your property's market value is when several properties similar to yours sell.

What is the difference between market value and assessed value?

Your TRIM notice has separate columns for these values. If your property has a homestead exemption, it is possible that market value and assessed value will be different because of the Save Our Homes assessment limitation.

Both values must be calculated and maintained because the market value of your property may increase at a greater rate than the assessed value.

What is Save Our Homes?

Also known as Amendment 10, Save Our Homes is a constitutional amendment approved by Florida voters in 1992 for properties that have a homestead exemption. It places a limitation on annual assessment increases to 3 percent or the Consumer Price Index, whichever is less.

Exceptions to the limitation include new additions or construction that are assessed at fair market value for the first year and are thereafter eligible for the limitation as long as the property has a homestead exemption.

The market value becomes the base value for Save our Homes purposes for the new owner, who must apply for a homestead exemption to be eligible for the limitation in years to come.

What if I don't agree with my property's market value?

If you feel that the market value on your TRIM notice is incorrect, you should contact the Property Appraiser's Office at 754-4190. It is the duty of the Property Appraiser to determine fair, accurate and equitable assessments for all the property owners in the county. If you have evidence that the market value of your property is less than what we have estimated, we welcome the opportunity to review all the relevant data.

If, after an informal review of your property by an appraiser, you still feel the value is incorrect, you may file a petition to appear before the Value Adjustment Board. Petitions are available at either property appraiser's office. The last date to file a petition is Sept. 12 and is listed on your TRIM notice.

If you have questions about millage rates levied by the various taxing authorities, please contact the proper government agency:

The Hernando County Board of County Commissioners, emergency medical services, Spring Hill Fire Rescue District or Stormwater Management Program. Call 754-4000.

City of Brooksville, call 544-5400.

City of Weeki Wachee, call 596-2004.

Hernando County School Board, call 797-7004.

Southwest Florida Water Management District, call 796-7211.

Alvin Mazourek is Hernando County property appraiser. The information in this guest column can be found on his office's Web site at www.hernandocounty.us/pa/.