Thursday, January 18, 2018
News Roundup

For the first time in years, Hernando County property values rise

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County Property Appraiser John Emerson delivered some positive news this week to the county's taxing authorities: Based on preliminary tax roll values, the governmental bodies stand to collect significantly more in revenue this year.

It effectively signals an end to the seven-year downturn in property values across Hernando.

The county's certified taxable value of $7.112 billion was roughly a 2.32 percent increase over last year's preliminary certified value and is the final key factor in the formula used by government officials to construct their annual spending plans for the 2014-15 fiscal year.

"It shows that property values appear to be turning around," said George Zoettlein, assistant county administrator for budget and community services. "The question is: Will there be enough dollars there to offset the increases in expenses?"

Higher property values generally result in higher tax bills for property owners, assuming that governmental bodies maintain the same tax rates.

Over the next two weeks, Zoett­lein and his staff will work the numbers, which also include taxable values based on the county's stormwater municipal services taxing unit, plus a levy for mosquito control, to calculate what the tax rate will have to be in order to meet budget obligations.

He will present a balanced budget plan to county commissioners on July 15.

After the housing bust that began in 2007, property values countywide fell each year between 8.77 percent and 9.75 percent. The taxable value is a reflection of values from the previous calendar year, and officials hope that brighter signs in the local economy mean that values will continue to climb.

Revenues for the Hernando County School District stand to rise about 2 percent. District spokesman Eric Williams said any increase in the tax base is good. Historically, the district has lagged in local funding, contributing to the district's relatively low funding per student compared with other Florida districts.

"Certainly, local contributions to per-student funding help," he said.

The city of Brooksville saw a 2.7 percent increase in property values, from $371.2 million to $381.4 million. City Manager Jennene Norman-Vacha said that the numbers reflect several positive factors in the city, including about $6.25 million in new construction value.

"Rising property values are definitely the kind of thing that you want to see going into a new fiscal year," she said.

The 2014-15 fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

Times staff writer Danny Valentine contributed to this report. Contact Logan Neill at [email protected] or (352) 848-1435.

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