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Friday, Oct 24, 2014
Pasco News

Appraiser has grim news for New Port Richey


Published:
Suncoast -

NEW PORT RICHEY - For the first time in five years, property values are increasing in much of Pasco County. But the recovery from the recession seems to have skipped over New Port Richey, causing grumbling among city officials.

Pasco Property Appraiser Mike Wells outlined grim numbers behind the impeded growth in the city during a recent city council meeting.

"You're not alone in this boat," Wells said, adding he is "not picking on New Port Richey."

All older housing developments in West Pasco are losing value. The total real property values in Port Richey and New Port Richey were down $7 million and $21 million, respectively.

That provided small comfort for Councilman Bill Phillips. He noted the city might lose another $160,000 in property tax revenue during its 2014 fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1.

Wells, however, emphasized that the median sale price of a single-family house in the city is $54,638. That is roughly half the median value of a house in the unincorporated county, $110,100.

Inside New Port Richey houses tend to be significantly older, Wells said. The average year for construction of a house in the city is 1970, and the average year for a home built in the county is 1988.

The departure of most of the services of Community Hospital of New Port Richey and their relocation to the Medical Center of Trinity delivered a blow to property values in the city, Wells said.

Ten years ago, the hospital on Marine Parkway was valued at more than $21.5 million. This year, the property, now known as Medical Center of Trinity West Pasco Campus, is valued at a bit more than $6.3 million.

Rental rates on office space near the former Community Hospital have fallen by about one-third.

About 14.6 percent of properties within city limits are exempt from all taxes, compared to 8 percent of properties within the county, Wells added.

Wells pledged his help by having his homestead exemption fraud staff focus solely on city properties for the foreseeable future. "I'll run every homestead in New Port Richey" in an effort to ensure they qualify for the exemption under state law, Wells said.

A glimmer of hope is breaking through the property value clouds, Wells added. Residential sales in New Port Richey increased 1 percent this year, he noted.

Wells suggested the city follow the example of St. Petersburg, which revitalized the area around the Vinoy Hotel. The landmark Hacienda hotel here is ripe for a similar renaissance, he said.

After Wells departed, city council members took some solace from a report about new building projects that could boost the tax base next year.

Construction of Magnolia Place apartments along Congress Street should conclude by the end of the year, Development Director Lisa Fierce said. That could represent a potential value of $8 million. Nearby, Richey Woods is spending about $4.5 million to add apartments and upgrade existing units. Among businesses, Waffle House executives plan a restaurant at 6608 U.S. 19.

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