Monday, April 23, 2018
News Roundup

Property values take 6 percent dip in Pasco

Mike Wells admits he missed the mark.

Last year, he told county commissioners that property values were finally beginning to stabilize. Better times were ahead.

But this week's release of figures for local governments' upcoming budget year tell a different story, with values down countywide by nearly 6 percent, and down in all but one of Pasco's six cities.

"My staff and I discussed this thing several times and it appeared things were turning around," Well said. "But it's gone down nearly 6 percent. I was wrong. That's what the market is telling us. We simply monitor what buyers pay for property."

Wells said it's not his really job to be an economic forecaster, but his staff looks at factors like vacancy rates on commercial properties such as warehouses and offices. If those rates go down, that indicates the market is improving. He said vacancy rates are decreasing in Wesley Chapel and Trinity, two areas that have new hospitals either just built or under construction.

"I'll stick my neck out one more time and say 2012 is going to be better than (last) year," he said, noting that the figures released this week reflect all of 2011. He attributed the continued slide to ongoing sales of distressed properties, but said he's hearing that some of those are sparking bidding wars.

"Of course those are the ones in good condition," he said. "Not the beat-up houses with no cabinets."

The fallout is already causing some heartburn for local officials.

County budget writers were assuming a 4 percent drop, but the extra nearly 2 percentage points will result in a higher tax rate in order to raise the same revenue as last year. Budget director Mike Nurrenbrock said he was in the process of recalculating the rate, called "the rollback rate." County commissioners all expressed support for the rollback rate several weeks ago, but that could change since the rate will be higher.

"That's not something you can put a Christmas bow around," said Commission Chairwoman Ann Hildebrand.

She said that news comes at a bad time since the state legislation requiring counties to reimburse the state for disputed Medicaid bills may not be resolved until the next legislative session in March. That law translated into an estimated $3.5 million hit for Pasco.

Still, Hildebrand, who is retiring at the end of the year, said she's committed to supporting the rollback rate — which originally would have added $33 to the tax bill of the average home.

"It's two dinners at Red Lobster," she said.

Commissioners Ted Schrader and Jack Mariano, who face opposition in their re-election bids, didn't say what they would do.

But Schrader called the latest news "disappointing" and said more cuts might have to be considered in the budget process if the new rollback rate turns out to be much higher than what commissioners had initially agreed to support.

"There are still a lot of unanswered questions," he said.

Some cities were harder hit than the county, with New Port Richey's values plunging nearly 11 percent.

Finance director Doug Haag said the city "may have to make some tweaks" in its budget, which has been plagued by falling values for the past few years.

He said employees have not had a pay raise in nearly four years and likely would not see one this year.

"Things have been tight," he said.

Realtor Greg Armstrong, who has served as chairman of the West Pasco Board of Realtors, said the situation is dire for New Port Richey, where less than half of all homes are owner-occupied.

"New Port Richey is in crisis mode," he said. "We've got to do something to turn around the city of New Port Richey."

He said an investor in New Port Richey told him recently that he had just bought his first "POJ."

"That stands for Piece of Junk," he said. "He hopes to start renting it out soon."

Still, Armstrong sees bright spots. Sales prices are holding steady. Some short sales are sparking the bidding wars that Wells described.

"We've got one where the bank accepted offer No. 23," he said.

Taxable property value percent changes for 2012 vs. 2011

Pasco School District- 5.86 percent
Pasco County- 5.94 percent
Dade City- 4.65 percent
St. Leo+ 2.02 percent
San Antonio- 5.40 percent
Zephyrhills- 7.63 percent
Port Richey- 3.61 percent
New Port Richey- 10.78 percent

Source: Pasco County Property Appraiser

Comments
Lightning Round 2 playoff tickets on sale Monday

Lightning Round 2 playoff tickets on sale Monday

Single-game tickets for the Lightning's Eastern Conference semifinal series go on sale to the general public at 1 p.m. Monday at nhl.com/lightning/tickets.The Lightning plays the winner of the Bruins-Maple Leafs series. Game 6 of that series is Monda...
Updated: 5 hours ago
How Baker Mayfield can benefit the Bucs

How Baker Mayfield can benefit the Bucs

TAMPA — The buzz surrounding this year's NFL draft is a class of talented quarterbacks deep enough to challenge the record six taken in the first round in 1983, a group that included future Hall of Famers John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino.Th...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Andrei Vasilevskiy and the universal language of playoff hockey

Andrei Vasilevskiy and the universal language of playoff hockey

TAMPA — As usual, Andrei Vasilevskiy didn't speak in front of the cameras after the game. He has been like that since he hit the NHL. He still isn't comfortable with his English on TV.But Vasilevskiy spoke loudly and clearly in the first-round ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Rays are suddenly swinging hot bats, but will it last?

Rays are suddenly swinging hot bats, but will it last?

ST. PETERSBURG — Good pitching and hitting go hand in glove, but the Rays did not look like a team that could swing the bats very well until this completed homestand.In their series sweep over the Twins, Tampa Bay scored 8, 10 and 8 runs. ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Rick Stroud’s takeaways from Rays-Twins

Rick Stroud’s takeaways from Rays-Twins

–Yonny Chirinos may be the Rays fourth starter, but it seems to be in name only. He was lifted after pitching 4 2/3 innings against the Twin on Sunday, the shortest start of his career and his second-shortest appearance.  "Going into the g...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Rays’ Carlos Gomez hits two-run walkoff homer to beat Twins for series sweep

Rays’ Carlos Gomez hits two-run walkoff homer to beat Twins for series sweep

ST. PETERSBURG — With every swing, there is a chance Carlos Gomez is going to do something extraordinary with the baseball bat.He may swing so violently that he spins himself into the ground as if he were an oil drill. Or, you could see him sna...
Updated: 8 hours ago

nationwideTravelers face delays as jet engines inspectedScores of Southwest Airlines travelers were facing delays or cancellations Sunday due to emergency inspections following the mid-air explosion of an engine on one of the airline’s 737s last week...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Waffle House hero says shooter would’ve had ‘to work to kill me’; another crude Theta Tau frat video surfaces at Syracuse; more in U.S. news

Waffle House hero says shooter would’ve had ‘to work to kill me’; another crude Theta Tau frat video surfaces at Syracuse; more in U.S. news

TennesseeShooter had ‘to work to kill me’The man who wrestled the gun away from the nearly naked Waffle House shooter in Nashville said Sunday if he were going to die, the gunman would "have to work to kill me." Police and Waffle House CEO Walter Ehm...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Lottery resultsNumbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, please go to tampabay.com/lottery.Pick 2, 3, 4, 5Sun., April 22, midday:2-2 7-3-9 4-4-6-8e_SRit3-8-8-6-0Sun., April 22, evening:6-2 8-6-0 8-3-9-8e_SR...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Islamic State suicide bomber kills 57 in Afghan capital

Islamic State suicide bomber kills 57 in Afghan capital

Associated PressKABUL, Afghanistan — An Islamic State suicide bomber carried out an attack at a voter registration center in the capital Kabul on Sunday, killing 57 people and wounding more than 100 others, said officials from the Afghan interior and...
Updated: 9 hours ago