If the outward signs of growth such as traffic jams and land clearing aren’t telling enough, Property Appraiser Mike Wells confirmed this week that the boom times continue in Pasco County.
Countywide, Wells estimates property values grew by 15.5% over last year, a rate at the high end of earlier estimates. That means Pasco commissioners may be able to tick off more items on a 145-item wish list than previously expected.
The list compiled by county staff includes new staff hires in numerous departments, a variety of maintenance projects, vehicles, capital equipment, training, beach sand and library materials. The potential expenses total more than $40 million in the next fiscal year.
While County Administrator Mike Carballa said most of those would likely not be possible at a budget workshop with county commissioners last month, his initial planning was based on a 12% property value increase rather than the 15.5%.
“Pasco County is one of the fastest-growing counties in the state, and the board is focusing on building and diversifying our tax base to capitalize on that growth,” he said. “With another year of double-digit property value increases, we’re considering dozens of high-priority needs as we work through the upcoming year’s budget recommendations.”
He noted that local governments are sharing the same experiences as their residents with rising costs.
For Pasco’s east-side cities, values jumped even higher, with Dade City seeing a property value growth of 24.5%, Zephyrhills with 20% and San Antonio with 17.3%.
“Am I surprised? No. People have realized what Dade City has to offer: small-town historic charm, unique shops and restaurants, and a safe, friendly community to raise a family,” said Leslie Porter, city manager of Dade City. “The increase in taxable value will help offset the rising cost of inflation and better enable us to serve our residents.”
While existing Pasco properties continue to rise in value, new construction has also bumped up values.
In Pasco, $2.46 billion of the increase in value comes from new construction. The overall property value tied to operating the county came in at $47.2 billion. Dade City saw another $40.7 million in value in new construction, bringing the city’s total to $537 million, according to letters sent this week by Wells to taxing authorities.
“Our estimates for 2023 reflect the exceptional real estate market Pasco County continues to deliver despite external factors,” Wells told the Tampa Bay Times in an email. “Though inventory and time on market have increased, inflation and mortgage rates did little to temper already-strong values in the past year.”
He said the average sale price for single-family homes is still above $400,000, and “commercial investment continues to transform the landscape along familiar corridors.”
Final property values will come in about a month, but local governments are already building their spending plans for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
Pasco County commissioners last month heard the early budget plans by Carballa. He presented a spending plan built using the current tax rate, which would pay for existing services and staff while also completing the county’s jail expansion, providing pay raises for employees, beefing up code compliance and hiring 10 more deputies for Sheriff Chris Nocco.