Pasco County’s taxable assessed values are expected to increase 7% to 10% for the coming budget year, according to Robert Goehig, the county’s budget director.
He delivered that forecast during the Pasco County Commission’s March 9 meeting.
The budget director gave board members an overview of impacts from COVID-19 on the county’s economy, and the way looking forward.
“When the coronavirus and the pandemic first came upon us, we experienced the economic recession, which is defined, of course, as two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth,” he said.
The recession was much deeper than the Great Recession experienced from 2007 to 2009, but it was much shorter, too — lasting just two economic quarters, Goehig said.
“We’re expecting the economy to move along at kind of a very slow pace, until a substantial portion of the population is vaccinated, whether that be April, May, June, whatever that is. “Once we have that substantial portion of the population vaccinated, we expect the economy to grow at a very fast pace.
“Luckily, we’re in an area that’s expected to see growth even above the national average.
“If we’re expecting a national growth rate of 8%, we’re expecting the Tampa rate to be higher than that,” Goehig said.
Industries expected to have the most growth are construction, financial services and other services, which include repair and maintenance, personal care services and social advocacy, according to slides in Goehig’s presentation.
“We have some evidence to point toward the fast-growing Tampa region,” he said, noting that Tampa Bay startups raised $180 million in 2020, compared to $129 million in 2018.
He also noted that Tampa leads the nation in small business job growth.
Plus, more corporations from the northeast region of the country are relocating to Florida. And, more residents are moving here, too, he said.
All of this is having an impact on the region’s housing market.
“The existing home price in the past year or so took a sharp spike,” he said, which indicates a shortage in existing homes for sale.
“This partially explains the reason that so much new construction is happening in our region,” Goehig said.
Regional home values are on the rise, in both the resale and new construction market.
There has been a price appreciation of 8% for resale homes and 9% for new homes, while at the same time there’s been a 7% increase in new home sales.
Goehig offered evidence of Pasco’s hot market by noting “two of the top 50 planned housing communities in the United States, two of those best-sellers are right here in Pasco. That’s Starkey Ranch and Bexley,” the budget director added.
“Of course, all of this growth does come at a price, and that is inflation. Our area is more than double the national average in inflation,” he said.
Demand for construction materials is causing the price to go up, and the county is expected to feel the effects of inflation, in particular, during construction of roads and buildings, he said.
During fiscal year 2021, the county was very conservative because of the pandemic, and didn’t bring on much new spending, Goehig said.
This year, with a brighter outlook, the county can invest in some new initiatives, he said.
Plus, Goehig said the county will be waiting for guidance from the treasury department before recommending how to spend any funds coming from the recently passed federal stimulus bill.
Meanwhile, on the local front, construction of single-family homes has kicked into high gear.
“At the end of the year, we were seeing single-family home permits coming into the building department at record levels, at 600 homes per month.
“We thought we were at the peak, we can’t possibly get any higher. And, then we turned the calendar in January, had almost 900 single-family homes in January.
“So, we expect this to continue,” he said.
The permit value for commercial construction also is significantly higher, too, the budget director said.
Plus, the county is benefiting from tourism — as visitors pay bed taxes and spend money in the local economy.
Goehig noted that “with the exception of the gas tax, revenue is on an upward trajectory.”
The county expects to receive information about its preliminary taxable values from the property appraiser on June 1 and the final assessed values on July 1.
The county is expected to set its tentative tax rates on July 6, which are reported in Truth in Millage (TRIM) notices mailed to property owners.
Once the TRIM notices go out, the board can choose to lower the rates, but cannot raise them, when adopting its final budget.
Published March 17, 2021