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Pinellas property values up by 13.8%

The one-year increase would generate $30-million more in taxes at current rates. Beach areas average bigger gains.

By NICOLE JOHNSON
Published June 1, 2005


The value of Pinellas County property increased by 13.8 percent over the past year, the highest year-to-year boost since at least 1986.

The rise mirrors the hearty real estate market nationwide. But county administrators point to several factors specific to Pinellas.

Real estate "flipping," when a person purchases a property and quickly sells it, seems to be driving part of this year's boom, said Ron Anderson, the county's deputy for property appraisals.

"I can't believe the prices things are going for," Anderson said. "A lot of people who are buying these things are speculators. They're looking fairly fast to turn it and make their money. It's like buying stock on margin."

The condo market - especially along the coastal areas - seems to be leading the overall property value increase, said Jim Smith, the county's property appraiser. The county saw about $1-billion in new construction this year, Smith said.

Sales of condominiums in waterfront communities helped drive the property value increase, Smith said.

The beach town of Redington Shores led all municipalities in property values with an increase of 26 percent. North Redington Beach followed with an increase of 23.5 percent.

Beach communities such as Madeira Beach and Treasure Island registered increases of 21.6 percent and 21.5 percent, respectively. The increases are significant when considering that in 2004 Madeira Beach's property values increased by 14.6 percent and Treasure Island's values rose by 13.5 percent.

"The beach communities are still where people want to live," Smith said. "So that's why the prices are going up at a faster rate."

It seems people also want to live in areas away from the beach. In Largo for example, property values increased by 14.6 percent, compared with a 10.1 increase last year.

The 13.8 percent countywide increase is expected to generate about $30-million more in tax revenue under current property rates, said Jerry Herron, county director of the Office of Management and Budget.

The trend has some cities, including St. Petersburg and Clearwater, talking about cutting the municipal tax rate. Both cities' values went up nearly 15 percent.

But county officials preached caution.

"A decrease would be nice to pass on to the taxpayers, but at the same time we're receiving some additional responsibilities, especially from the state," said Ken Welch, vice chairman of the Pinellas County Commission. "I think our task is to try to absorb all those new costs transferred to us by the state and try and keep the millage where it is right now."

This year, the county is planning to pick up $5-million in costs for juvenile justice and spend $500,000 on a courts information system, both state-mandated expenses.

A large chunk of the county's expected tax revenue increase - $20-million - would likely go to paying for needs associated with growth and inflation. Other monies would be split between the sheriff's budget, which includes a jail expansion, and transportation and environmental services, Herron said.

"No decisions have been made, but our public safety departments have definitely come forward and said they need more resources," he said.

The county's base tax rate is $5.99 per $1,000 of assessed value. That doesn't include an additional rate charged to residents of unincorporated areas or separate taxes for emergency services or education.

Nicole Johnson can be reached at 727 771-4303 or njohnson@sptimes.com

PINELLAS PROPERTY VALUES

Property values in Pinellas County rose an average 13.8 percent over last year, according to the Pinellas County Property Appraiser's Office. Here are the increases by municipality:

BELLEAIR: 13.0

BELLEAIR BEACH: 15.3

BELLEAIR BLUFFS: 17.6

BELLEAIR SHORES: 15.9

CLEARWATER: 14.8

DUNEDIN: 13.0

GULFPORT: 19.5

INDIAN ROCKS BEACH: 21.3

INDIAN SHORES: 22.6

KENNETH CITY: 12.0

LARGO: 14.6

MADEIRA BEACH: 21.6

NORTH REDINGTON BEACH: 23.5

OLDSMAR: 11.7

PINELLAS PARK: 10.8

REDINGTON BEACH: 21.0

REDINGTON SHORES: 26.0

SAFETY HARBOR: 11.1

SEMINOLE: 14.5

SOUTH PASADENA: 14.0

ST. PETE BEACH: 19.1

ST. PETERSBURG: 14.6

TARPON SPRINGS: 13.9

TREASURE ISLAND: 21.5

[Last modified June 1, 2005, 00:38:18]


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