With the mailing of proposed tax bills to residents and businesses just over a month away, count on tourism-related enterprises to again carry the heaviest load in Orange County.
That's because these operations have significant assessed property values, which are a key component in determining tax rates.
Take last year, for example. All but one of the highest assessed companies in Orange County was either a hotel chain or a theme park, according to the Orange County Property Appraiser's office, whose assessments of property form the basis for how they are taxed.
The only non-hospitality company in the top 10 was Duke Energy.
The nine top hospitality and tourism companies had a combined $12.7 billion of assessed property value last year, making up 11 percent of Orange County's overall $117 billion assessed value.
Walt Disney Company, with its myriad holdings, was by far the biggest assessed property owner in the county, at $6.95 billion. Universal Studios was second at $1.38 billion, followed by Marriott Resorts at $1.08 billion and Hilton Resorts at $793.2 million. At number five was Orange Lake Country Club, with $642.7 million. Duke Energy had $603.5 million, putting it in sixth place. Wyndham Resorts was seventh, with $483 million; followed by Westgate Resorts, at $480 million; Rosen Hotels and RH Resorts at $454.2 million and Vistana/SVO at $443.3 million.
The figures show that while Orange County continues efforts to diversify its job base and become less dependent on theme parks and hotels, there is no denying the industries mightily give back to the community.
"They may take knocks for things like providing lower wages, but they are bringing in people and new dollars, which generates revenue and tax activity," said Mekael Teshome, economist at PNC Bank.
The taxes these companies pay are used in countless ways, from law enforcement to road maintenance to drainage construction and public education.
"Services might not be so strong without them," Teshome said.
In Orlando, Orange County's biggest city, the company mix is quite different, with real estate-related enterprises dominating the top 10 among taxable value companies. Universal did lead the pack, with the taxable value of all land it owned in Orlando valued at $1.3 billion.
But office property owner HIW-KC Orlando was second, at $150 million; Forbes Taubman, third, at $102 million; and F6OSTC, owner of the SunTrust Center and other properties, at $90 million, was fourth. Orlando Outlet Owner was fifth, at $69 million; Realty Association Fund IX was next, at $62 million; USO Norge Paramount was seventh, with $57.7 million; Parkway Fund II was eighth at $57.3 million; MGI Baldwin Park was ninth, at $54.4 million; and PBP Apartments was tenth at $51.5 million.
All told, the taxable value of property in Orlando was $20 billion.
Following the mid-August mailing of proposed property taxes, residents and companies have until Sept. 18 to file a petition to the value adjustment board.
On Tuesday, we look at the companies in Winter Park and Maitland with the highest taxable values.