130,100 residential properties in St. Johns County, Florida
Includes almost 80,000 homestead exempt parcels
Florida offers generous, but complicated, homeowner exemption statutes
A mailing to 1,900 homeowners potentially eligible for unclaimed benefits led to 100+ responses
In St. Johns County—located in a state where one in five residents speak Spanish at home—the only legally required mandate to inform residents about homestead exemptions is publishing that information in an English-language newspaper. Property Appraiser Eddie Creamer was eager to take a more proactive approach: His team visited senior community centers, realtors’ offices, and other spots where they were likely to find people eligible for homestead exemptions. But in-person outreach has its limitations. The county population is 265,000 and field visits can only reach a minute fraction of residents.
Instead of in-person outreach, St. Johns County took advantage of data. The county partnered with TrueRoll, which leveraged hundreds of data sources—including census information, postal service data, residency data, voter registration, data elements that might indicate an individual’s senior status, and more—to identify 1,900 homeowners who could be eligible for a property tax exemption.
The county created an oversized postcard—one side was personalized, with the individual’s name and details on which exemptions, in particular, the homeowner might be entitled to. The other side offered follow-up steps for how residents could reach out to the county appraiser’s office.
A little over a week after the oversized postcards went out, the office phone lines were ringing with inquiries. The postcards got a 6% conversion rate from those who received them. As a result, the county has granted near 100 exemptions to eligible residents who hadn’t previously been aware they were entitled to the benefit.
Learn more about how St. Johns County Property Appraiser uses data science to serve homeowners.
“To be able to use data to find people that qualify for these exemptions is important to me. My plan is to continue to seek out those who deserve the benefits but haven’t applied.”
Property Appraiser, St. Johns County