For the first time in six years, city property values for tax purposes have stopped falling. The “preliminary taxable values” from the Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office indicate the city’s tax roll will increase one-half a percent.
This is the first increase in the tax roll since 2007, said Property Appraiser Bill Furst. He noted this is the “preliminary” tax roll, and there may be some changes before the final roll is produced on July 1. “It will change a little bit, but we’ve been fairly consistent in the past between the preliminary and the final,” he told The Sarasota News Leader.
The downtown Tax Increment Financing District didn’t share the gain. Weakness in commercial property dragged its value down by 0.3%. Furst said strength in the residential sector more than made up for the downtown drop, however.
Sarasota was the only municipality to show a tax-roll increase. Venice’s property values were down 0.4%, Longboat Key values had declined 1.3%, and North Port’s tax roll was off 1.5%. The overall county tax roll dropped, too – down 1.17%.
Finance directors in the cities and county were basing their preliminary budgets on a 4% drop, so Furst’s early numbers were a relief. In a memo to the county administrator, Interim Director of the Office of Financial Planning Steve Bothelo said, “The general fund will receive $1.2 million less than last year, however it will receive $3.0 million more than we originally projected.” The emphasis is in the original email.
Both the City and County of Sarasota have been relying on reserves to balance their respective budgets. The city raises $16 million with its tax on property to partially fund its $55 million budget.