The good news is that early estimates show Pinellas property values haven't dropped as much as county officials feared.
But the overall 1.7 percent drop in the taxable value of real property isn't enough to come anywhere near closing the shortfall expected in next year's county budget. Now, officials expect the shortfall in the county's general fund to be about $19 million, rather than the $24 million they'd estimated.
"It's good news that it's not worse than the forecast," assistant county administrator Mark Woodard said. "The hole has gotten a little bit shallower."
Pinellas Property Appraiser Pam Dubov evaluates the value of real estate, construction and tangible property, such as furniture and office equipment. She also takes the real estate values and subtracts the estimated deductions, such as homestead exemptions, that owners will claim in the coming tax year. The amount left over is the taxable value of the real estate.
Governments and agencies use those taxable values to estimate the amount of tax money they will receive in the next fiscal year and build their budgets according to that. Dubov's preliminary estimates were released Wednesday. Her final values are scheduled for release July 1.
The preliminary values indicate that land prices are still dropping, but not as fast as in the past few years.
Last year, for example, real property values had dropped by about 4.5 percent overall. A year or so before that, decreases in property values were in the double digits. This year, the overall drop in real estate values is about 2.9 percent.
"They are nowhere near where they were two years ago," Dubov said Thursday. "It continues to decline, but it's much less than the last two, three or four years."
But, she added, the values are "not uniform across the county. It varies from region to region."
Some of the beaches, for example, seem to be recovering faster than elsewhere in Pinellas.
Belleair Shore (6.02 percent), North Redington Beach (0.16 percent), Redington Beach (4.41 percent) and Redington Shores (3 percent) all saw an increase in the taxable value of their real property.
"The rest of the county is a mixed bag," Dubov said.
Seminole, for example, saw a 3.61 percent decrease in taxable real property values. Dunedin's values dropped by 2.45 percent. Belleair's declined by about 2.9 percent.
St. Petersburg's taxable real property values went down by 0.74 percent and Clearwater's fell by about 0.7 percent.
The number of foreclosures is still high, but Dubov said she sees some good signs.
One of those is in the area of additions and new construction, which are going strong. That's especially impressive, she said, because the county is built out and there's little or no land available for large-scale developments. That means the $248.6 million in new construction came mostly from refurbishing and adding to single-family homes.
Commercial real estate is doing well when it comes to rentals, hotels and some kinds of retail, but office building tenancy and industrial areas are still lagging, Dubov said.
Anne Lindberg can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8450.
Percentage change in real property taxable values from 2011-2012
|Belleair Beach||– 2.28|
|Belleair Bluffs||– 0.22|
|Safety Harbor||– 0.72|
|Indian Rocks Beach||– 0.49|
|Indian Shore||– 1.96|
|Kenneth City||– 1.07|
|Madeira Beach||– 0.54|
|N. Redington Beach||0.16|
|Pinellas Park||– 2.11|
|St. Petersburg||– 0.74|
|South Pasadena||– 1.30|
|St. Pete Beach||– 0.09|
|Treasure Island||– 2.00|
|Tarpon Springs||– 1.87|