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Values up; taxes to follow

Most can expect to pay more, unless the state or local governments do something.

By WILL VAN SANT
Published May 26, 2007


From Hernando County, south to Pinellas and across the bay in Hillsborough, county property appraisers are finalizing their annual tax tolls.
photo
[Skip O'Rourke | Times]
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Most Tampa Bay area property owners' taxes will increase again for 2007, short of legislative or local government action.

From Hernando County, south to Pinellas and across the bay in Hillsborough, county property appraisers are finalizing their annual tax rolls.

The numbers show that the days of dizzying escalations have passed, but properties' taxable values have continued to creep up, which means taxes will too.

The hikes range from a 13.7 percent increase in Hernando County to 5.8 percent in Pinellas County.

State law requires property appraisers to assess properties on Jan. 1. Generally, Tampa Bay homes were worth more then than a year ago. The taxable value totals also include any new construction added to the roll.

New commercial and residential construction in Hillsborough propelled a third year of double-digit increase in taxable values.

Taxable property values in Hillsborough rose to an estimated $88.1-billion in 2007, up 11 percent over last year. From 2005 to 2006, Hillsborough property values rose a whopping 24 percent. The year before that, it was 17 percent.

"There is still appreciation in property values in spite of headlines that scream it's all going down," said Warren Weathers, Hillsborough's chief deputy property appraiser. "It's coming down from a white-hot market to more of a normal market."

Pinellas' property values slowed more significantly. The estimated rise in taxable property values is up 5.8 percent from last year, compared to a 20 percent climb from 2005 to 2006.

The last time the annual change was as modest was 1999, when values grew just 4.8 percent.

"The market went up very, very rapidly, too fast," said Bob Johnson of Sand Key Realty, who has been dealing in Pinellas waterfront property for a decade. "Things are coming back down to where they belong."

Part of the reason for the slowdown: Taxable property values in some of Pinellas' beach communities dropped slightly after reaching a peak in 2006.

Last year, tiny Belleair Shore saw a jump of nearly 40 percent. Figures for this year show that taxable property value in Belleair Shore fell by 4.8 percent -- meaning taxable values are still up more than 30 percent over 2005. Other beach towns, including Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Shores and Redington Beach, also find themselves facing a decline in values.

Seminole, St. Petersburg and Tarpon Springs all showed healthy increases of 8.9, 8.3 and 8.1 percent respectively.

Pasco's property appraiser is also expecting value increases but does not have estimates ready.

In Hernando, values were up 13.7 percent to $10.6-billion compared to 29.4 percent from 2005 to 2006.

Politicians, both at the state and local level, are still trying to grapple with the fallout of the skyrocketing increases of recent years. The hike in values socked business and investment property owners and new home buyers with substantially higher tax bills.

Longtime homesteaded homeowners, thanks to the Save Our Homes property tax cap, were largely shielded because increases in their tax bills are capped at 3 percent a year.

Whether this year's increase in values will raise tax bills rests with local governments, who will use the property appraiser's rolls to develop their budgets for next year. Once the budget is final, tax bills will be sent out around Nov. 1.

Or the Legislature may step in. It's meeting in June to consider overhauling the property tax system to provide some relief. But it may be unable to make a difference before tax bills come due in November.

Pinellas County Commissioner Susan Latvala anticipates local governments will react, having registered the public's mood, and trim millage rates to lower this year's tax bills.

"What can we do right away to provide some relief?" said Latvala, who is also the president of the Florida Association of Counties. "I think you will see a lot of that across the state."

Those looking for a cooler market to translate into lower tax bills may get satisfaction next year. If trends detected in early 2007 continue, values may take a more significant dip, leading to slimmer tax bills, particularly for those in nonhomesteaded property.

Homesteaded property owners would only benefit if the market value of their home dipped below the assessed value.

"There probably will be quite an adjustment in 2008," said Hernando property appraiser Alvin Mazourek.

Insurance costs have not been forgotten

State Rep. Bill Heller and Sen. Charlie Justice, both Tampa Bay area Democrats, said Friday that rising property insurance rates continue to be an issue even after the Florida Legislature addressed the crisis in a January special session.

During a discussion about insurance at the U.S. Geological Survey building in St. Petersburg, both pushed for a national catastrophe fund, an independent commission to look into insurance rate filing, and stricter controls on coastal building.

"We still have a lot of work to do," Justice said.

Times staff writers Mike Brassfield, Barbara Behrendt, Asjylyn Loder, David DeCamp and Tom Zucco contributed to this report.

Fast Facts:

 

Hernando

The Hernando County Property Appraiser's Office has released preliminary figures on taxable property values. They show an increase in value countywide of 13.7 percent from last year to this, as opposed to 29.4 percent from 2005 to 2006. Hernando figures do not include value contributed by new construction. Here's the breakdown by municipality and in unincorporated Hernando.

Taxing Percent Authority Change

Brooksville 10.1

Weeki Wachee 2

Unincorporated 13.2 Hernando

 

Hillsborough

The Hillsborough County Property Appraiser's Office has released preliminary figures on taxable property values. They show an increase in value countywide of 11 percent from last year to this, as opposed to 24 percent from 2005 to 2006. But 11 percent was typical earlier in this decade. Here's the breakdown by municipality and in unincorporated Hillsborough.

Taxing Percent Authority Change

Plant City 11

Tampa 10

Temple Terrace 10

Unincorporated 13 Hillsborough

The Hillsborough County Property Appraiser's Office has released preliminary figures on taxable property values. They show an increase in value countywide of 11 percent from last year to this, as opposed to 24 percent from 2005 to 2006. But 11 percent was typical earlier in this decade. Here's the breakdown by municipality and in unincorporated Hillsborough.

 

Taxing Authority - Percent Change

Plant City ...................................... 11

Tampa ........................................... 10

Temple Terrace ........................... 10

Unincorporated Hillsborough ... 13

 

The Pinellas County Property Appraiser's Office has released preliminary figures on taxable property values. They show an increase in value countywide of 5.8 percent from last year to this, as opposed to 20 percent from 2005 to 2006. The last time the annual increase was lower was in 1999, when values grew 4.8 percent. Here's the breakdown by municipality, including properties in unincorporated Pinellas.

 

Taxing Authority - Percent Change

Belleair 4.7

Belleair Beach 4.7

Belleair Bluffs 3.5

Belleair Shore -4.8

Clearwater 4.3

Dunedin 7.6

Gulfport 6

Indian Rocks Beach -.7

Indian Shores -3.2

Kenneth City 5.1

Largo 7.4

Madeira Beach .5

North Redington Beach .6

Oldsmar 7.9

Pinellas Park 6.8

Redington Beach -.1

Redington Shores 5.3

Safety Harbor 6.2

Seminole 8.9

South Pasadena -2.2

St. Pete Beach 1.6

St. Petersburg 8.3

Tarpon Springs 8.1

Treasure Island 3.8

Unincorporated Pinellas 5.6

 

Source: Pinellas County Property Appraiser's Office.

 

The Hernando County Property Appraiser's Office has released preliminary figures on taxable property values. They show an increase in value countywide of 13.7 percent from last year to this, as opposed to 29.4 percent from 2005 to 2006. Hernando figures do not include value contributed by new construction. Here's the breakdown by municipality and in unincorporated Hernando.

 

Taxing Authority - Percent Change

Brooksville 10.1

Weeki Wachee 2

Unincorporated Hernando...13.2

 

[Last modified May 25, 2007, 23:09:52]


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