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Pinellas County
Beach property values on increase
Dubov predicts values of six communities will go up in 2013
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REDINGTON BEACH – The news was good from Pinellas County Property Appraiser Pam Dubov for many beach homeowners.

Speaking at the March 28 meeting of the Barrier Islands Governmental Council, Dubov predicted taxable property values for six beach communities would rise slightly in fiscal 2013.

“Things are better this year as far as market values and prices are stabilizing,” Dubov said. “Some communities are still declining, but much less. Many are increasing in value.”

She said condos are not performing as well as homes, which has a direct link to some communities seeing increased values and others that are not.

With the exception of Treasure Island, which will see an estimated 3 percent drop in values; Belleair Beach, which is expected to drop 2 percent; and Indian Shores, which is predicted to drop 3 percent, all other beach communities will enjoy a small increase in 2012-13.

They include:

• Indian Rocks Beach, up 2 percent.

• Madeira Beach, up 2 percent.

• North Redington Beach, up 2 percent.

• Redington Beach, up 2 percent.

• Redington Shores, up 2 percent.

• St. Pete Beach, up 1 percent.

Dubov explained that the numbers she presented are taxable value.

She said the Save Our Homes cap would be the maximum 3 percent, which is the limit to annual increases in assessed value for property with homestead exemption. The SOH cap limits the annual assessment increase of property to 3 percent or the change in the Consumer Price Index, whichever is lower.

When a house is sold, the cap and exemption are removed at the end of the calendar year and taxes are calculated on the full market value, also called the just/market value. The property falls under the limitations of the Save Our Homes cap the second year of the new owner’s homestead exemption.

If a property owner applies for and receives homestead exemption for 2012, the assessed value will be capped in 2013.

To determine taxable value, any exemptions are subtracted from the assessed value to reach a taxable value, which is then multiplied by the annual millage rate set by the taxing authorities to reach the amount of tax due.

“We haven’t had (the SOH cap) at 3 percent in quite a few years,” said Dubov, “and that’s because the CPI is at the same level.”

She said foreclosures across the county are slowly on the decline, but they have not ended.

“The last couple of months they’ve been on the increase but we haven’t seen the number of foreclosures on the beaches that we’ve seen on the mainland,” Dubov said. “That’s because investors bought large numbers of homes in 2008 and 2009 in places like Lealman and other areas where the homes ranged in size from 900 to 1,400 square feet. Then they walked away from them. It’s going to take a while to clear those but I don’t see that as prevalent on the beach.”

She said sale prices on the beach haven’t been affected as much as on the mainland.

“While sale prices have come down (on the beaches), they haven’t been affected as drastically as on the mainland,” Dubov said. “A lot of times people do damage on the way out and we haven’t seen that as much on the beach.”

She said the annual TRIM notices would be mailed to Pinellas homeowners either Aug. 20 or Aug. 27.

Walkwise Tampa Bay

Julie Bond, project manager for Walkwise Tampa Bay, a grassroots initiative to provide pedestrian safety education, said the Florida Department of Transportation has renewed its contract with Walkwise Tampa Bay for another year in effort to better educate the public and motorists about pedestrian safety.

Bond and her staff give safety presentations throughout the Tampa Bay area but a strong focus is on Pinellas County, due to a large number of crashes involving pedestrians, she said.

The Walkwise flag program will continue along the beaches, as long as the current supply of flags lasts, and information will be distributed to area hotels and businesses about pedestrian safety measures.

“This is a huge project in tourist areas for the beach because most of the fatalities have involved tourists,” said Redington Beach Mayor Nick Simons. “We’re all concerned with pedestrian safety.”

Beach update

Andy Squires, coastal manager for Pinellas County Environment and Infrastructure, said the $31.5 million Sand Key beach nourishment project would begin in late April when the first sand hits the beach about 3,000 feet south of Sand Key Park.

The preliminary project schedule is: Clearwater to Belleair Beach, April 15 to July 17; Indian Rocks Beach, July 19 to Aug. 23; Indian Shores, Aug. 25 to Oct. 3; and Redington Shores-North Redington Beach, Oct. 5 to 18.

“As the project proceeds, we’ll narrow those dates down more,” said Squires. “It’s scheduled to finish in late October but it will probably finish earlier than that with good weather.”

For county updates on the project, visit www.pinellascounty.org/environment/coastalMngmt/sandkey.

Legislative update

Indian Shores Town Councilor Bill Smith said the recent legislative session in Tallahassee turned out good for the state’s beach management budget.

Smith said almost $22 million in project dollars were allocated for beach nourishment and $5 million more for the Bureau of Beaches and Systems.

“We’re fairly close to the $30 million we were supposed to get from state doc stamps,” said Smith, “but haven’t received due to the economy and lack of (home) sales.”

The allocations were pending approval by Gov. Rick Scott.

Smith noted that longtime State Sen. Dennis Jones (R-Indian Shores) has termed out. Jones, who was known as the “Sand Man,” led efforts for years at the state level to allocate funding for beach nourishment projects.

Among those expected to keep the effort alive is State Rep Jim Frishe (R-St. Petersburg), who is running for Jones’ Florida Senate seat.

Penny for Pinellas

The final step for 11 beach communities to receive $35 million in Penny for Pinellas funds for Gulf Boulevard improvements has been delayed to Tuesday, April 24 when approval of an interlocal agreement between the beach towns and the county is expected by the Pinellas County Commission.

If approved, the funds will be dispersed to the beach towns over a seven-year period beginning in fiscal 2013. The county will hand out $3.5 million per year from 2013 to 2016 and $7 million per year in fiscal years 2017 to 2019.

Funding to each town is based upon beach frontage.

Clearwater will receive the largest amount, $6.7 million, followed by St. Pete Beach, $5.7 million; Indian Rocks Beach, $4.1 million; Indian Shores, $4 million; Treasure Island, $3.8 million; Madeira Beach $3.3 million; Belleair Beach, $2.1 million; Redington Shores, $1.7 million; Redington Beach, $1.6 million; North Redington Beach, $1.2 million; and Belleair Shore, $800,000.

New board

Simons ended his tenure as president of the BIG-C with the March 28 meeting.

The new board will consist of Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos, president; Treasure Island Mayor Bob Minning, vice president; and Indian Rocks Beach Commissioner Terry Hamilton-Wollin, treasurer.

The next meeting is Wednesday, April 25, at John’s Pass Village, Madeira Beach.
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