BROOKSVILLE — In this economic climate, news that's not worse than expected is, by default, considered good.
That about sums up the reaction of local budget directors to the property tax roll certification figures released Thursday by the Hernando County Property Appraiser's office.
The certified taxable values for the county, city of Brooksville and the school district are down from last year by 12.1 percent, 11 percent and 12.2 percent, respectively. That includes all residential and commercial properties as well as new construction.
That's pretty much exactly what Property Appraiser Alvin Mazourek told local governments to expect when he offered at the end of May the so-called good-faith estimate of a 12 percent drop.
Local government officials grappling with deficits had hoped that Mazourek's estimate would wind up on the gloomy side. In fact, that did happen, but only to a very slight degree.
The drop in values for the county came in at $8.2 billion, a bit less than the good faith estimate. That means $166,000 more than expected for the $43 million general fund.
That's barely a blip considering the county will still collect about $7 million less in tax revenue next year than it received last year if the millage rate stays the same.
But negligible? Perhaps not.
The county had projected a budget shortfall of $10.4 million and is considering 47 layoffs to help bridge the gap. The $166,000 barely dings the deficit, said budget director George Zoettlein, but certainly it is a glimmer of good news considering the number of jobs it could save, if the county chooses to use the money on personnel.
"The average worker in the field? Maybe about three, possibly you could stretch it to four," he said.
In the case of the school district, values came in at $9.37 billion, or 1.3 percent higher than the good faith estimate. That equates to about $105,000 more than expected for the $170 million general fund and trims the projected deficit to $5.7 million, chief financial officer Desiree Henegar said.
The district so far has not broached the subject of layoffs. Still, "average teacher pay and benefits is $59,000," Henegar said. "So not quite two teachers."
The drop in values cost the city of Brooksville $350,175 compared with last year.
Tony Marrero can be reached at (352) 848-1431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.