July 18, 2018 – Poor water quality in Martin County has damaged home values, research shows, leading some homeowners to question how much they should be paying in property taxes.
“It’s not fair that we are assessed these values, and we can’t even use the property that we live on,” says Martin County homeowner Jay Kuhlman, who moved into a waterfront home in Seawall’s Point a year ago. “There was nothing that we signed, any disclosure, notifying us that the property we were moving to had a known problem with releases.”
To avoid Lake Okeechobee flooding, excess water is redirected into Florida rivers, including the St. Lucie. While that eases pressure on Lake Okeechobee and its dike, it causes a buildup of sometimes foul-smelling algae in the rivers.
Property Appraiser Laurel Kelly said she expects to hear even more complaints from homeowners in August after proposed property taxes are sent out. She said previous research has shown that Lake Okeechobee releases affected home sale profits.
After the 2013 algae crisis, more than 100 waterfront properties saw an increase in value, Kelly says – but not as much of an increase as there could have been with cleaner water.
“It’s a real loss in value to someone who can’t sell their property for as much as they would have had there been no discharges,” Kelly says, noting that a Florida Realtors® study, funded by the Everglades Foundation, found that changes in water quality resulted in an estimated $488 million reduction in Martin County’s total property value between May 1, 2013, and Sept. 1, 2013.
Source: WPTV 5 (Fla.) (07/13/18) McRoberts, Meghan