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In a sharp upward revision of Key Biscayne’s tax base, the Miami-Dade property appraiser says taxable values rose 10.1% last year, a statistic all but certain to have a major impact on 2025 budget planning. But it may not change your tax bill much.  

The revision, posted July 1, startled Key Biscayne officials. It showed a 40% jump from the first estimate in June,  an increase of the island’s taxable value of just over $1 billion in just one year. The property appraiser, Pedro Garcia, did not not respond to questions about why the June number was so off the mark. 

The island’s tax base — now nearly $11 billion —plays a big role in the annual debate about the budget, because surging property values can create a windfall scenario — where rates stay flat, but actual taxes soar. In reporting stories about property taxes, the Key Biscayne Independent focuses on whether taxes actually increase or decrease — not the tax rate, often called the “millage.” 

Key Biscayne Village Manager Steve Williamson released a record $91.1 million budget estimate last month that includes $47 million in capital spending  — record expenses driven by the first phases of the “Big Dig” resilience projects, such as stormwater control and utility undergrounding. 

But Williamson said while the property appraiser’s new tax base number was a surprise, his administration is not planning on using it as a kind of monetary manna from heaven. 

“I am not going to say, ‘hey, look at this windfall, let’s use it’,” he said Friday. “We will continue to refine the budget, but I don’t see it as being much different.” 

The increase in the July 1 tax base is so large it will likely mean the Council will face pressure to  limit the tax impact for a number of reasons.

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Surging property values may sound appealing, but they are unrealized “paper” gains and don’t translate into more income with which to pay taxes. And the burden is higher for many residents who don’t get property tax breaks under the Florida Constitution. 

About two-thirds of Key Biscayne properties don’t get the Homestead and Save Our Homes breaks, which means renters and commercial property owners shoulder an increasing share of the tax burden. The gap widens even more in years with big boosts to the tax base — Key Biscayne has had three in a row. 

Mayor Joe Rasco, who voted against setting a nonbinding tax rate cap last month, did not respond to a question about the revised tax base. His opponent in the November election, Charles Collins, also did not respond to a request for comment. 

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Editor-in-Chief

Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.

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Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow...