BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County's financial picture grew darker Thursday when Property Appraiser Alvin Mazourek announced a likely drop of 8 percent in property values this year for tax purposes.
County budget manager George Zoettlein had been building a 2012-13 spending plan based on a 5 percent drop in property values, which directly relates to the amount of property tax revenue generated to provide county services.
Countywide taxable values for all properties would fall from $7.7 billion to $7.1 billion, the lowest it has been since 2004, according to Mazourek's estimates.
Taxable value is the value after all exemptions have been deducted from the assessed value of properties.
For the county, that means a projected $6.7 million shortfall in property tax revenue would grow to $8 million, and that figure does not consider a Medicaid billing backlog that could cost Hernando another $3 million.
"The value is going down because of (home) sales,'' Zoettlein said.
The good-faith estimate from Mazourek's office considers values in 2012, but does not include an estimated $65 million in the value of new construction. That figure will be added before the appraiser certifies the tax roll formally on July 1.
But Zoettlein said that with so little new construction last year, he didn't expect the additional value to do much to help with the county's revenue deficit.
County commissioners will meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday to discuss the 2012-13 budget. At 1 p.m. Tuesday, the commission will hold a public hearing and special meeting to consider establishing separate taxing districts for libraries and for parks.
By Tuesday, Zoettlein expects to have received the 2012-13 budget proposals from the county's five constitutional officers, which are due today. With the good-faith estimate and the budgets, he expects to present commissioners with their best look yet at how much will need to be cut from next year's budget, unless tax-rate increases are approved.
"I'm going to be asking them to give me some guidance,'' Zoettlein said.
The time line is tight from this point. The next budget workshop for the board is July 10, and by July 15 Zoettlein must submit a balanced budget to the commission. By its last meeting in July, the commission must approve the 2012-13 tax rate.
Zoettlein said he hoped that "this is the last bad one'' and that property values will begin to rebound for the 2013-14 fiscal year.
The early estimate for 2012-13 also shows that property values in the city of Brooksville fell by 4.5 percent, from $398 million to $380 million.
Brooksville City Manager Jennene Norman-Vacha said the estimate is not out of line with what city officials have been expecting.
And the figure may even signal that property values in the city are stabilizing, she said.
"It's not as devastating as years past," Norman-Vacha said. "Our hope is that we'll be able make up any shortfalls without too much difficulty."
Information about the impact of the good-faith estimate on the Hernando school district's revenues and budget was not available Thursday.
Staff writer Logan Neill contributed to this report.