BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County property values fell last year at the highest rate since the housing boom collapsed, according to preliminary information released by the property appraiser on Friday.
The taxable value of all residential and commercial properties fell to just above $8 billion compared to $9.3 billion in the previous year. That's a 13.7 percent drop compared to the 9.45 percent fall the year before, and a drop of 9.75 percent in tax year 2008.
Tax year 2008 was the start of the economic downslide and the first time Hernando County had seen a decline in taxable value.
The drop in values means that Hernando County will receive $8 million less in tax revenue next year than it received for the current fiscal year, based on the county's current property tax rate.
"It's unfortunate, but that's the market that's out there,'' said Property Appraiser Alvin Mazourek.
The countywide property value is the critical factor in budget planning for government. Budget builders use it to determine how much property tax will be generated to provide services for the various taxing authorities.
This so-called "good faith estimate" also reflects that the Hernando County School Board will receive an estimated $9.7 million less in property tax revenue; for the city of Brooksville, the decline is $404,000.
Mazourek said the fall in the values does not include the value of new construction, which amounted to about $120 million.
Where the numbers go from here is anyone's guess. Mazourek said.
The figures released on Friday reflect property sales in 2009. In the current calendar year, sales are up.
Mazourek said there were 100 more home sales in April than there were last April. But with many of the sales on foreclosures and short sales, it's unclear if that would pull values up or continue their decline.
The current county property value of $8 billion puts Hernando's overall value at just above what it was in 2005 and just below 2006, when many say the boom peaked.
Mazourek said other, more urban Florida counties were seeing that same circumstance. "We reflect the market and this is what it shows us,'' he said. "It's not a pretty picture.''
The taxable value drop, caused by falling property prices and increased exemptions from several actions in recent years, is forcing taxing authorities to make deep cuts in spending.
Hernando County government is trying to make up for an $8.3 million overall drop in revenue in the general fund. Officials are considering parking THE Bus for good, closing some parks and trimming other services down to just the basics.
Mazourek's office certifies the final values for budget purposes on July 1.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.