91% of new construction in county this year to be used for residential purposes, chief deputy property appraiser tells County Commission

98% of all new county parcels planned for dwelling units

During a recent presentation to the County Commission, Brian Loughrey, chief deputy property appraiser for Sarasota County, had more than just details about Property Appraiser Bill Furst’s proposed budget for the 2024 fiscal year.

After discussing his expectation that the overall county property value would rise more than the 13.1% noted in the preliminary report he had to provide to state officials to meet a mandatory June 1 deadline, Loughrey noted that the value of new construction in the county has a taxable value this year of $2.27 billion, but a market value of about $2.7 billion.

Moreover, he said on June 20, 91% of that new construction is residential.

In 2022, the Property Appraiser’s Office announced before the June 1 state deadline that its estimate of the taxable value of new construction in the county was $2,467,975,664; the market value was $3,079,702,730.

Loughrey’s slide on June 20 further noted that the taxable value of new construction in 2007 was $2.23 billion. That was the last year before the effects of the Great Recession led to a significant slowdown in building. The slide showed that the market value of new construction in 2008 was slightly more than $1 billion, with the taxable value lower than $1 billion.

Further, Loughrey said, “There are new parcels being added every year. Last year was a record; this year broke the record yet again,” with almost 5,100 new parcels. “A lot of tracts of land are being subdivided and turned into housing,” he pointed out during the commissioners’ budget workshop that day.

A slide illustrating that data showed that the number of new parcels this year added up to 5,079; last year, the figure was 4,434. The next highest number on the chart, which showed the totals from 2014 through 2023, was 3,684 in 2018.

Then Loughrey told the commissioners that 98% of the new parcels “will be residential in use” this year.

During a separate presentation to the commissioners last week, Matt Osterhoudt, director of the Planning and Development Services Department, provided an update on the number of permits his staff has issued so far this fiscal year. County Administrator Jonathan Lewis had provided the board members an update during their May budget workshop.

On June 21, Osterhoudt noted figures in the slides regarding the work of his department and its 2024 budget proposal. That slide had the following information:

  • The total number of permits issued is up 31% for the fiscal year to date (FYTD), to more than 32,500.
  • The number of inspections performed by Building/Inspections unit is up 19% FYTD ,to more than116,000.
  • The number of permits applied for electronically over the internet is up 39% FYTD, to more than 29,000.
  • The number of multi-family unit permits is up 35% FYTD, representing 903 units.
  • The number of single-family unit permits is down 43% FYTD; yet, the figure is more than 800 units.
  • The number of building plan reviews is up 12% FYTD, to more than 23,500.

Homestead applications, efficiencies and budget proposal

During Loughrey’s presentation, he also pointed out that the county has 133,000 properties with homestead exemptions — about 50% of all of the residential parcels. The homestead exemption count continues to rise, Loughrey told the board members. The Property Appraiser’s Office staff takes in from 17,000 to 19,000 such applications every year, he said.

Yet, even with record-breaking figures, Loughrey noted that the office remains more efficient than most of its peers in the state. Property appraiser office staff members in 59 of Florida’s counties assess fewer parcels per position than the Sarasota County office, another slide illustrated.

The number of assessments per full-time position in the Sarasota County office is 4,472 parcels. The lowest figure in the state is 1,469 per full-time employee.

The counties with higher numbers than the Sarasota County figure are Levy, Collier, Pasco, Marion, Lake, Washington and Lee, the slide noted.

“We are retaining our efficiencies despite the growing number of properties to appraise every year in this county,” Loughrey told the commissioners.

The office’s proposed budget for the 2024 fiscal year shows that the plan is to have 70 full-time positions, down from 71 this year.

As for the details of Property Appraiser’s Office budget for the next fiscal year, which will begin on Oct. 1, Loughrey said that the total is $8,862,720, up 4.8% from the total of $8,494,082 for the current fiscal year.

He also noted that personnel expenses comprise the largest portion of the budget. For the 2024 fiscal year, the figure is $7,077,333, marking an increase of about 4%, compared to the current fiscal year total of $6,795,327.

Rises in salaries, along with higher state-mandated retirement contributions, have had their effects on the proposed budget, he said.

The office’s operating expenses for the 2024 fiscal year were put at $1,785,387, an increase of approximately 5%, compared to the figure of $1,698,755 for this fiscal year.

Of that uptick for 2024, Loughrey pointed out, $42,000 will be for postage alone. Another $9,000 is for printing, he added.

“Interesting kind of stats,” Chair Ron Cutsinger told Loughrey, referring to the earlier slides. “You said 98% of all of those parcels are residential?” Cutsinger asked for clarification.

Loughrey confirmed the figure. “I expected a lot of residential,” he added, “but I didn’t expect that much residential.”

“Interesting,” Cutsinger replied.