Monday, Dec 22, 2014

St. Petersburg, Pinellas property values, tax revenue rise

BY CHRISTOPHER O’DONNELL
Tribune staff

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For the second straight year, rising property values are set to boost local government coffers.

The taxable value of properties rose across Pinellas County, with an average increase of 5.6 percent from last year, according to a report released Thursday by Pinellas County Property Appraiser Pam Dubov.

The biggest rise in values was in Redington Beach, with an 8.1 percent increase in its tax base. Indian Rocks Beach saw a 7.6 percent increase.

Overall, market values increased by about 10 percent — “signs of an improving market,” Dubov said in a statement.

The rise in taxable values is more modest because of homestead exemptions and the Save Our Homes amendment, which ties increases on assessments to the consumer price index with a 3 percent cap.

The increase will be welcomed by local governments still bouncing back from cuts in services and layoffs forced by years of slumping home values and a sluggish economy. Property values last year rose 3 percent, the first increase for five years.

Pinellas County officials, who budgeted for a 3 percent increase, said the actual increase will mean an extra $7.3 million for the county’s general fund.

That will give the county a $3.4 million surplus rather than the estimated deficit of about $4 million, said Bill Berger, budget director.

County commissioners recently were inundated with additional requests for funding from the sheriff’s office and other county departments.

Sheriff Bob Gaultieri requested an extra $15 million to boost pay and buy cruisers and police radios. The county’s business technology department is asking for money to upgrade aging computer systems and to make its salaries more competitive. The property appraiser’s office is asking for new vehicles.

“This helps us with some additional funding to be able to address those needs,” Berger said. “The real estate market is definitely showing more positive signs than it did last year.”

Taxable value of properties in St. Petersburg is estimated to go up by just under 7 percent.

Mayor Rick Kriseman announced the news to city council members at a workshop Thursday, saying it would bring in an additional $2.9 million in property taxes.

That will lower the city’s expected budget deficit from $4.1 million to $1.3 million and enable the city to fund additional investment in neighborhood projects.

“It’s certainly moving in the direction we would like to see,” Kriseman said. “This is truly good news.”

The tax roll also shows that construction of new homes and businesses is picking up, with almost $300 million in new construction added to tax rolls across Pinellas, a 40 percent increase from 2013.

codonnell@tampatrib.com

(727) 215-7654

Twitter: @codonnellTBO

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