Pasco property tax rate expected to stay the same in 2020

Pasco County’s tax rate is expected to stay the same in 2020, as new development continues to expand the county’s tax base.

That assessment came during a Pasco County Commission workshop to discuss the preliminary estimates for the 2020 budget.

The county is projecting a 9.5 percent increase in assessed values, said Robert Goehig, budget director in the county’s Office of Management and Budget.

Based on the county’s preliminary information, county administration has asked department heads to base their budgets on the premise that there will be no millage rate increase, he said.

“As we go through the year and get more information, of course, we will update these revenues as we go along,” Goehig said.

While the county expects overall property values to increase by 9.5 percent, the state’s Save Our Home protection for homesteaded properties limits the increase in the assessed value to 3 percent, or the rate of inflation, whichever is less, Goehig said. There’s also a 10 percent cap on the increase in assessed values for non-homesteaded properties.

Based on current information, County Administrator Dan Biles told commissioners: “I think we’ll be in good shape this year.”

However, Goehig noted, that while the county is anticipating increased revenues because of the increase values, it also is experiencing population growth and that means an increased demand for services.

And, while the values are increasing, Goehig also observed: “It has taken the county 11 years to get back to the assessed values it achieved in 2008.”

With the current outlook, Commissioner Mike Moore said it might be time to put aside more funds in reserves.

“Do we think that we’re at a point now, that we don’t need to use it all, and we sock a little bit away?” Moore said, adding at some point the current growth cycle will end.

Commissioner Jack Mariano agreed: “I think getting the reserves up is a good idea. Just because it’s there, we don’t need to spend it.”

As the county prepares its budget for next year, department heads have been asked to justify any new dollars they request, Goehig said.

Commissioner Mike Wells applauds that approach. “You run it just like a business. Show me what you need and why. I think it’s great.”

The county also is looking at budget impacts for more than one year at a time, Biles said.

The county administrator also noted that the economic outlook nationally is “a pretty mixed bag right now.”

By June 2019, the country will be in the longest economic expansion (121 months) since the recording of economic data began in 1854, according to information presented at the workshop.

“The fundamentals are exceedingly strong in the economy,” Biles said. However, he noted, “there is some discussion in the market about a potential slowdown. There’s a lot of  noise out there in the environment.”

Mariano said he thinks the prospects are bright in Pasco County.

“As long as California and New York are doing what they’re doing — they’re driving people away from those states and they’re coming here. Across the nation, a lot of states are losing population.

“I think we’re in great shape for several years to come,” Mariano said.

Pasco is one of the fastest-growing counties in the state, Biles noted.

Estimates predict that Pasco’s population will grow by 8.2 percent between 2018 and 2025, compared to the state’s expected growth of 7.1 percent population growth during that period.

Published March 13, 2019

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