LEE COUNTY — Houses are now worth more than ever in Lee County.
The Lee County Property Appraiser released a report Thursday morning, showing values soared by almost 10% over the past year, but some homeowners are now worried that could make taxes soar as well.
Karin Bean has lived in a neighborhood in eastern Lee County since 2005, but earlier this year, her husband died of COVID-19. That took away about 80% of her income, and the prospect of higher taxes is something she’s afraid she can’t afford.
Bean is now alone to care for the house the two of them spent the past 16 years renovating.
"The house is done, and he’s not here to enjoy it, and I’m not going to be able to afford it," said Bean.
The Lee County Property Appraiser's website shows Bean’s house increased in value by about $9,000 over the past year. That’s potentially an extra $86 added to her yearly tax bill.
"I’m already struggling to pay bills and make due, and I’m not quite there. So property taxes, it’s just another cost that I really can’t afford," said Bean.
County Appraiser Matt Caldwell said, there are a lot of homeowners on a fixed income in Bean’s position right now, because the market isn’t slowing down.
"There’s just not enough houses out there for the number of people that want to move here," said Caldwell.
"People just keep coming. You see license plates from different areas. People are buying homes without even looking at them," said Bean.
But Caldwell says it’s not a guarantee that taxes will be going up, because County Commissioners could still change the property tax rate.
"The County has to make a decision about what they want to do. Either to take what’s called the 'roll back rate', which would mean no additional tax dollars, or somewhere between that and their current millage," said Caldwell.
Caldwell said that decision will be made in August. Bean said she’s hoping for a lower rate, but she’s also planning for the worst.
"I’m most likely going to have to sell," said Bean.
Caldwell tells us there are several tax exemptions that you can take advantage of to try to ease the tax burden. One of those is a widow exemption, something Bean is already approved for.
To learn what exemptions you might be eligible for, just click here.