Tampa Bay property values ​​drive record revenue, but not necessarily lower taxes

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Hammers and nails have helped create an impending $43 million property tax windfall for the city of Tampa.

The sizzling housing market has produced it, said Tampa City Councilman Orlando Gudes, and “that money needs to be put back into housing.

“I hope everyone is listening because this money can really help the housing crisis,” Gudes told the rest of the council during a June 2 workshop.

It’s a conversation that repeats itself in town halls and county government centers across the region. The dramatic increases in property values ​​will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new property tax revenue for local governments to spend in the next fiscal year beginning October 1.

Assessed values, prepared by each county’s real estate appraiser and sent to the state Department of Revenue on July 1, showed double-digit percentage increases in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties.

And some of the largest local governments are planning to channel their growing tax revenues into roads, police and other public services rather than lower rates so that taxpayers can see relief on their bills.

Governments will begin 2023 budget submissions this month and set final tax rates in the fall, but preliminary discussions have indicated that even some of the most conservative officials want civic investments over tax cuts. .

“To me, a tax rate cut is not part of the conversation,” said Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White, a tax conservative who represents some of the region’s redder parts. “Governments – when we try to build roads and sidewalks and meet other infrastructure needs – we suffer from inflationary pressures like everyone else.”

The record revenues are the result of escalating prices in the real estate market and new residential and commercial construction completed in 2021, and it is showing on the tax rolls for the first time.

New construction rose 33% in Pinellas County, crossing the $1 billion mark for the first time since 2008, said Mike Twitty, Pinellas County real estate appraiser. It’s a boom that has resulted in a 13.1 percent increase in Pinellas County assessed values, double the increase seen last year.

Hillsborough County government has two separate tax areas – one countywide and one for unincorporated areas outside of the cities of Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant City. Across the county, property values ​​rose nearly 15.4% from a year ago, and the unincorporated area saw a jump of more than 14%. The increases were even higher in all three cities.

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The revised version the values ​​are expected to bring Hillsborough County $153 million in additional property tax revenue. Temple Terrace could get an additional $3.7 million and Plant City would get $3.4 million, all without changing their tax rates.

Both of these small towns benefited from significant industrial development in 2021. Ace Hardware added a fulfillment center in Plant City, and a $210 million Amazon fulfillment center is now the biggest source of tax revenue. at Temple Terrace.

In Pasco County, assessed values ​​increased 16.73% and are expected to generate $87.6 million in new money with no change in tax rate.

Just two years from the penny pinch at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, government budget writers are sifting through books full of money and ideas for how to spend it.

In the City of Tampa, Council Member Charlie Miranda initially focused on work on roads and intersections.

“The community needs a lot of things that haven’t been touched,” Miranda said. “Hopefully we can do something to address the issues that we (have). Extra revenue should be extra things done for neighborhoods, for every taxpayer.

Investments in public safety are a recurring theme. In Hillsborough County, new revenue could help build a fire station in downtown Sun, make renovations to Falkenburg Road Jail and create storage space for emergency management services and fire rescue, White said..

“There are many things on the Hillsborough County agenda that still need attention,” Commission Chair Kimberly Overman said, citing affordable housing, infrastructure, job training and programs for children and parks for low-income residents.

Pinellas County Administrator Barry Burton will present his 2023 budget on July 19 and said he will offer a partial tax rate cut. This means the tax rate will drop, but residents could still pay more due to rising values.

Homeowners in Florida are protected from drastic year-over-year property tax increases through the Save Our Homes Cap, which limits annual increases in property value to a maximum of 3%. Once a property changes hands, the assessment is reset to full market value.

Burton said keeping taxes low was one of four priorities for the 2023 budget. But with record turnover in most county departments, there is a need to invest in employee salaries to retain staff and maintain services. Other initiatives will focus on addressing the backlog of road and other infrastructure repairs and investing in mental health services.

“We’re going to take a very cautious approach with very targeted changes,” Burton said. “My goal each year is to keep property taxes low.”

Governments in Tampa Bay, Hillsborough County to the City of Gulfport in Pinellas, also plan to use supplemental revenue to raise salaries for employees who did not raise salaries during the pandemic.

“There is a common theme that at the moment it is very, very difficult to retain employees. It really is a major problem for all governments, ”said Hillsborough Commissioner Harry Cohen.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said the city’s affordable housing stock, transportation system and deferred maintenance needs are too great to consider a tax cut.

“I wish I could roll back the mileage, especially in these difficult times. Frankly, that would be irresponsible given the enormous needs of our community,” Castor said.

Pasco Commission Chair Kathryn Starkey said the new funds “will go primarily to public safety.” In recent meetings, public speakers have called for more MPs, firefighters, ambulances and fire stations. The potential additional cost to the county taking over Sheriff Chris Nocco’s jail operations on Oct. 1 is also imminent.

In May, the Pasco commissioners received dozens of possible spending alternatives, including a list of 50 new employees, more than $3 million for park maintenance, and other expenses ranging from wrestling mats to park at the Wesley Chapel Leisure Center to renovations to bus stops to serve people with disabilities.

St. Petersburg saw a 15.3% rise in property values, among the highest in the county. In a memo to city council members in June, Mayor Ken Welch said he was evaluating budget scenarios that would include lowering the tax rate. But it’s not yet clear how much the adjustment will affect tax bills.

The additional revenue will be used to fill a projected budget shortfall of $2.2 million while adding potential investments in housing and support for city employees and infrastructure, Welch said.

In June, Clearwater City Manager Jon Jennings outlined a plan to add about 62 positions to improve public services, such as hiring neighborhood coordinators to act as liaisons for residents’ needs and more. guards to reopen certain public toilets and better take care of the parks. But the expansion is also a response to growing demands. The plan includes hiring 10 new police officers specifically to patrol Clearwater Beach.

Jennings also hopes to add 14 employees to help operate the new Coachman Park and downtown waterfront, which is expected to be completed next year after an $84 million renovation.

The increase in personnel costs approximately $5.4 million. But it will be budgeted while keeping the tax rate the same as last year, Jennings said. The city is expected to generate more than $9.3 million in revenue, with assessed value jumping into double digits. But even with the status quo tax rate, most homeowners will pay more due to the higher values.

“For us to be more responsive, we just can’t keep asking staff to do more with less,” Jennings said. “It’s always a challenge in public space because it’s about increasing the value of properties versus adding more and more public amenities to meet public expectations.”

Times writers Milla Surjadi and Colleen Wright contributed to this report.

Location Role 2021 Role 2022 % increase

Pasco County

Countywide $35 billion $40.88 billion 16.73

City of Dade $339.6 million $403.6 million 18.92

Zephyrhills $946.9 million $1.11 billion 17.24

New Port Richey $724.9 million $843.8 million 16.40

Hillsborough County

Countywide $122 billion $140.7 billion 15.38

Unincorporated $73.5 billion $84.1 billion 14.41

Tampa $43.68 billion $50.58 billion 16.04

Temple Terrace $2.109 billion $2.67 billion 26.88

Plant City $3.019 billion $3.61 billion 19.8

Pinellas County

Countywide $97.9 billion $110.8 billion 13.1

Clearwater $13.4 billion $15.1 billion 13.2

St. Petersburg $24.6 billion $28.3 billion 15.3

Links to local government budget meetings:

The Hillsborough County Commission will receive the draft county budget on July 20.

The Pasco County Commission’s budget presentation is July 12.

The Pinellas County Commission will receive the draft county budget on July 19.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor presents her budget to city council on August 4.

Clearwater City Council to receive draft budget July 18

St. Petersburg City Council will receive draft budget on July 21

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