Real Estate News for North Pinellas County

Archive for July, 2006

When is a tax cut not really a tax cut?

If you live in Dunedin, you are about to find out.

The Dunedin City Commission has voted in favor of lowering the city’s property tax millage rate from 4.425 to 4.29 per thousand. Normally, that would mean a modest decrease in property taxes. But because property values have gone up so much lately, the property taxes for Dunedin homeowers are likely to go up rather than down.

Still, the cut in the tax rate is a good thing, and should prevent major hikes in Dunedin property tax bills.

City staffers had recommended that the millage rate stay the same, saying the city could use the extra money for various programs. But the City Commission overruled them.

Still no final vote by the City Commission, but if they maintain their current course, the change in the millage rate would take effect in October.

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If it snows, he’ll be ready

As a real estate agent, I drive through a lot of residential neighborhoods in North Pinellas County and Pasco County, and I see lots of strange things. But this sort of took the cake, at least for this week.

Yep, it’s a snow blower. It’s sitting on the front lawn of a very nice home in a very nice neighborhood. There’s no sign on it to indicate that it’s for sale, and I can’t imagine why anyone would buy one around here anyway.

Maybe it’s a lawn ornament. Maybe it’s just a joke. If it is, it certainly made me laugh.

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We’ve got your key lime pie right here…

How did I almost miss THIS one?

Just a few days ago, on July 1, the key lime pie became the official state pie of Florida, so named by the Florida Legislature.

This is important, so I’m told, because Florida is now only the second state in the entire nation to have an official pie. And key lime pie, GOOD key lime pie, is certainly worthy of being an official state pie.

(I wonder what kind of pie gets the “official” designation in Vermont? Something by Ben & Jerry’s?)

In 1994, the key lime pie was named an Official Symbol of the state of Florida, but I guess that didn’t quite reflect the full honor that a good key lime pie deserves. So the legislature passed the necessary bill, and Gov. Jeb Bush, fresh from signing the Take Your Dog To Lunch” bill, also signed this one.

“Interesting,” you say. “But what does this have to do with Pinellas County?”

I’m glad you asked, because it just so happens that we have one of Florida’s premier key lime pie makers right here in Palm Harbor. J.J. Gandy’s Pies is at 3725 Alternate 19, and it supplies key lime pies (and other flavors) to many of the area’s best restaurants. They also sell their pies over-the-counter, so you can enjoy them at home. Learn more at their website, www.jjgandyspies.com.

(I knew you were bursting to know, so I just checked and learned that the official state pie of Vermont is the apple pie. It’s not mandatory, but when the Vermont Legislature passed its pie bill in 1999, it wrote into the law that people should make a good faith effort to serve apple pie with a glass of cold milk, a slice of cheddar cheese or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. No kidding.)

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Property taxes UP in Pinellas County

I’ve written recently about property valuations going up in nearby counties. But I haven’t been able to report anything about Pinellas County because county tax officials hadn’t released any figures.

That’s changed. As expected, the property valuation numbers for Pinellas are up. WAY up.

According to Property Tax Appraiser Jim Smith, the value of property in Pinellas County has risen 20.3 percent over last year. That means that property in the county is now valued at $75.7 billion.

In 2005, property values rose 14.6 percent; in 2004, the increase was 10.7 percent. So this year’s valuation increase is huge.

Over in neighboring Hillsborough County (that’s where Tampa is located, for all you out-of-staters), the property valuation is up even more than in Pinellas — 22 percent.

Property owners may not be too happy about the sharp increase, because it will undoubtedly mean higher property taxes. But county budget officials are smiling, because the increase in valuations will mean about $45 million in additional county tax revenues. According to the County Commission, at least some of that increase will be returned to the taxpayers as part of a property tax cut.

That cut might total $10 million – $11 million off the $45 million increase.

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Take a dog to lunch

lobstermax2small_0I guess Gov. Jeb Bush likes dogs, because late in June he signed Florida’s new “Doggie Dining Law,” which allows dogs to accompany their owners to restaurants that have outdoor dining areas.

Now, there is a lot going on in Florida right now — issues like offshore oil drilling or what to do about skyrocketing homeowners insurance rates — but a lot of public attention has been paid recently to whether people should be able to take their dogs out to dinner.

I have a Golden Retriever, Max, who likes to eat everything in sight (see the accompanying picture of Max begging for a lobster shell), but I guess I don’t have a strong opinion about whether dogs should be allowed in outdoor eating areas. I do believe that I’ll be leaving Max at home when we go out to eat, though.

Here’s more details on the new law: It is a three-year pilot program that lets local governments decide whether to exempt restaurants from rules forbidding dogs from entering restaurants, as long as the restaurants have outdoor eating areas.

Officials in both Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties say they have other work to do that is more important, so they have no immediate plans to adopt the new state law.

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