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Pasco taxable property values fall 10 percent

Taxable property values in Pasco County fell 10 percent from last year, shedding $3-billion from the tax rolls, the Property Appraiser's Office said Thursday.

This is the first time in more than 20 years that those figures have fallen.

The tax roll estimate stands at $26.7-billion, down from $29.7-billion last year, Property Appraiser Mike Wells said.

The plunge means officials will have fewer tax dollars to work with. County government would take a $16-million hit next year, if officials kept the same tax rate as this past year.

The culprits are Amendment 1 and a real estate market that hit the skids, but Wells said the loss would have been even greater had it not been for Save Our Homes, which requires his office to raise homestead tax assessments by 3 percent, even if a home's market value falls.

"If the 3 percent rule were not there, it would have been another $2-billion off the tax rolls," Wells said. "We had a significant market decrease but it's offset by Save Our Homes. That saved the county from serious damage."

About 74 percent of Pasco's tax roll is residential, of which 70 percent are homesteads, Wells said. This means about half the total tax roll is homesteaded, whose slightly rising values cushioned the blow.

Approved by voters in January, Amendment 1 created an additional homestead exemption of $25,000 and made Save Our Homes savings portable, among other measures.

Wells estimated that of the

$3-billion loss in Pasco, $2-billion came from that additional homestead exemption.

Because the extra homestead exemption applies to county tax rolls but not the school district, Pasco's School Board got by with less damage.

The School Board's tax roll shrank 2 percent, to $29.1-billion this year from $29.7-billion last year.

Wells said he just completed mailing the estimates to the various local governments: the county, the School Board and the cities. Local governments rely on these numbers as they build their budgets for next year.

Wells was careful to strike a note of optimism about the real estate market Thursday, criticizing media reports on falling home values.

"We're seeing things begin to bottom out," he said. "This time next year, I really think things are going to level out."

Cities, which were also affected by Amendment 1, lost taxable values across the board too:

• New Port Richey dropped 11 percent, from $919,592,133 to $817,135,953.

• Port Richey dropped 12 percent, from $408,190,737 to $357,620,010.

• Dade City dropped 7 percent, from $339,314,538 to $314,240,223.

• Zephyrhills dropped 11 percent, from $817,724,059 to $730,375,326.

• San Antonio dropped 6 percent, from $64,657,098 to $60,667,442.

• St. Leo dropped 1 percent, from $50,072,846 to $49,608,040.

Chuin-Wei Yap can be reached at cyap@sptimes.com or (813)909-4613.

Pasco taxable property values fall 10 percent 05/29/08 [Last modified: Saturday, May 31, 2008 7:27am]
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