Pasco County is projecting a 8.5% to 9% increase in assessed values, Robert Goehig, said Pasco County’s budget director, during a recent county workshop.
“We’re going to budget to 8.5%, and then if the property appraiser comes in with more, we’ll make adjustments,” County Administrator Dan Biles said, during the Feb. 25 workshop with commissioners.
That would generate an additional $17 million of property tax revenue; that would be $8.5 million available to the sheriff; and, $8.5 million to the board and the other constitutionals, the budget director said.
Goehig also talked about indicators that help predict changes in the economy. He characterized those indicators as “canaries in a coal mine.”
For instance, “permit activity begins to drop three years before impact is seen on assessed values,” Goehig said.
That’s not happening in Pasco, though.
“As you’re well aware from driving around the community, the number of single-family homes is increasing,” Goehig said.
“The number of building permits continues to increase,” he added.
Sales tax revenue also is a leading indicator of economic health.
“Our half-cent sales tax revenue has been increasing 5% to 6% the past few years,” he said, and that is expected to continue this year.
Another indicator of economic health is the amount of trash that’s discarded, Goehig said.
“As the economy wanes, people hold on to things longer, there’s less trash. As the economy booms, people start throwing things away,” he explained.
In putting together the budget, the county plans to add to its reserves, he said.
“Last year at this time, the board had instructed us to try to increase the general reserve to try to get it to that 16.7% of budgeted expenditures over a three-year period,” Goehig said.
“In fiscal year 2020, we increased it to 11.1%; we’d like to increase it again, another 1.5% in fiscal year 2021.
Reserves for the general fund is at 11.1% and all of the other major funds are at the recommended 16.7%, he said.
The recommended figure of 16.7% represents two months’ of expenditures, Goehig said.
Commission Chairman Mike Moore said the county needs to make the money it plans to set aside a line item in its budget.
“Let’s put a line item there, so we don’t have hands grabbing it,” Moore said.
When the county had its workshop, it was still early in the week.
The stock market crashed because of concerns about the coronavirus — and it continued its downward spiral through the rest of the week.
“We don’t expect that there’s going to be a long-term impact from the coronavirus. We know that governmental agencies and non-governmental are starting to take this seriously,” Goehig said.
The hope is that the coronavirus will not have a long-term impact on the economy, the budget director said.
But, he added: “If there is a long-term impact, we will adjust our revenue projections accordingly.”
Pasco expects that the growth of population and tourism will continue to drive the local economy.
Tourism development tax revenues are expected to increase, as the county brings on new hotels, he said.
Sale tax revenues also are expected to go up, as well.
And, the county’s population has grown and continues to do so.
Pasco County’s estimated population is 557,000, a 16% increase since the 2010 census, Goehig said.
Published March 4, 2020