Hard to say what to make of it, but here's the upshot on that long list of property owners who didn't pay their real estate taxes by April 1: It's a little shorter this year than last.
The number of parcels with delinquent taxes dropped to 19,523 in 2009 from 19,556 in 2008. And the value of those unpaid taxes also dropped, to $33 million from $36 million.
"Things are just about the same as they were last year," said Pasco Tax Collector Mike Olson. "If anything, as far as the tax payments, they're slightly better, they're not worse."
Who are some of the property owners with the biggest unpaid tax bills? Little surprise that they're developers.
Connerton LLC, the unfinished new town in Land O'Lakes that ceased operations and was put up for sale last year, has 305 parcels in its name. That totals $664,615 in delinquent taxes.
Country Walk Developers in central Pasco has 253 parcels with $698,404 in unpaid taxes. Santa Fe Development LLC owes $44,823 on 116 parcels in its Wesley Chapel subdivision.
One well-known face on the delinquent list is U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, the Palm Harbor Republican. As of the April 1 due date, he owed about $1,800 on a one-story office building he owns in Holiday.
But Bilirakis sent in his taxes on April 29, after the list had already been published, according to Olson.
So could the modest drop in delinquent taxes from last year be a positive sign of things to come? Olson said he isn't sure.
He said it could mean the economy is starting to bounce back. Or it might mean that the financial institutions that have foreclosed on homes have paid off the delinquent taxes. Or it may be a combination, or something else all together.
"It is what it is," he said.
And don't forget the 2008 delinquencies were a big spike — up about 3,000 parcels and $3 million from the year before. And that's not to mention that the overall taxes levied have dropped, to $424 million in 2009 from $468 million in 2007.
On the 2009 list, the typical amount due, including fees and interest, is $906.
Tuesday marks this year's first online tax certificate sale, which allows investors to pay the outstanding taxes in exchange for liens on the properties. Investors must bid to pay the delinquent taxes on a property, with the certificate going to the bidder with the lowest interest rate.
Last year's first auction on 2008 tax certificates left roughly $2.6 million unpaid, which was a record. But those unpaid taxes tumbled after subsequent "clean-up" auctions.
Jodie Tillman can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6247.