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Bay Buzz

The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Growing property values brighten budget outlook at Tampa City Hall

After initially estimating that property values would grow 3 percent this year, Hillsborough County Property Appraiser Bob Henriquez now is looking at a 5.4 percent increase.

Total taxable values are estimated at $69.6 billion countywide, which represents Hillsborough's first increase in values after five consecutive years of decline. The appraiser's office is expected to make the numbers final in about a month.

In Tampa, values appear to be up 5.7 percent compared to 2012 — the biggest increase in the county.

"It means the worst of the recession is over," Mayor Bob Buckhorn said. "Granted, we're capped because of what we can recoup back because of the Save Our Homes" cap on the growth of tax assessments on homesteads.

But it still makes a dent in what Tampa officials feared would be a $20 million revenue shortfall for the city budget that takes effect on Oct. 1.

"The difference between what we were projecting at 3 percent versus what is seemingly turning out (to be) 5.7 percent translates to about $3 million," Buckhorn said. "That's all to the plus side."

In the meantime, Buckhorn said City Hall is asking departments for a 5 percent reduction in spending, is trying to eliminate or leave open unfilled jobs and is looking at other possible efficiencies. On Thursday, Tampa chief financial officer Sonya Little is scheduled to give the City Council a mid-year budget update and briefing on next year's budget.

Elsewhere in Hillsborough, values are estimated to be up 1.5 percent in Temple Terrace and almost 3 percent in Plant City.

Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill's proposed budget for next year includes a projected increase in tax revenue — its first in five years — from rising home values and consumer spending. Click here for a full story.

"This budget signals a turning point," Merrill wrote in a message to county residents and commissioners late last week. "For the first time since the world economy sank into a deep recession over four years ago, we are once again seeing positive growth."

 

[Last modified: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 3:05pm]

    

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