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Another slide in property values could cost Hernando County government $1 million

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County property values slid again last year, which will cost the county government another million dollars in tax revenue if the property tax rate is not increased for the 2013-14 fiscal year.

Hernando County property appraiser John Emerson delivered the news to the county's taxing authorities on Friday, the final key factor in the formula used by government officials to construct their annual spending plans.

The county's certified taxable value fell from last year's preliminary certified value of $7.191 billion to $7.015 billion, but that 2.4 percent decline was less than half of the reduction reflected the prior year.

In the four years prior to that, after the housing bust, countywide values fell each year between 8.77 percent and 9.75 percent. The taxable value is always a reflection of values from the previous calendar year, and officials hope that brighter signs in the local economy mean that next year values may be flat or even increase for the first time since 2007.

"Hopefully, we've bottomed out,'' said George Zoettlein, assistant county administrator for budget and community services.

The value certified on Friday will bring in about $400,000 more in tax revenue than the good-faith estimate released by Emerson one month ago. If the property tax rate were to remain the same, that value would generate $39.4 million in revenue for the county's general fund.

Added to the value since the good-faith estimate was approximately $100 million in new construction, Emerson said. That was up from $55 million in new construction during 2011.

With the final values in hand, Zoettlein said that next week he will calculate how much money in the current year's county budget will roll forward into next year. From there, he can calculate what the tax rate will have to be in order to meet budget obligations. A balanced budget is due to the County Commission on July 15.

The commissioners are slated to take up the budget discussion at their July 23 meeting and will set the tentative tax rate at that time. The tax rate and budget details will be finalized at the second of two public hearings in September.

The 2013-14 fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1434.

Another slide in property values could cost Hernando County government $1 million 06/28/13 [Last modified: Friday, June 28, 2013 10:05pm]
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