Real Estate News for North Pinellas County

Archive for August, 2006

No tax cut in St. Pete?

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ve seen several stories about how rising property valuations have increased property taxes, and how some counties and municipalities have been at least thinking about cutting the mill rate to provide some property tax relief.

Of course, the trouble is that cuts in the mill rate are seldom (never?) substantial enough to get property taxes down to where they were before the property values began to rise. Some government jurisdictions find the prospect of “found money” just too tempting to ignore. It’s like getting a substantial tax increase without having to actually vote on raising taxes.

The latest story appeared today in the St. Petersburg TIMES, headlined “Rising fees may cancel tax cut.” St. Petersburg recently announced a 5 percent tax cut for 2007. But now the city is saying that increases in water, sewer and trash pickup fees will go up an average of $4.15 per month, and that will effectively wipe out any of the tax cut benefits.

The St. Petersburg City Council will consider the fee increases during their two meetings in September.

This has been a tough year for homeowners and prospective homeowners in Florida. As I write this, the latest tropical storm/hurricane (Ernesto) is heading our way, and all the hurricanes of the past couple of years has driven home insurance rates way up. Also, the hot real estate market of the past two years has pushed up property values, and that has led to great increases in property taxes.

Counties and municipalities need to have the political will to return a portion of that new-found money to the taxpayers. I read recently that Pinellas County will enjoy an additional $140+ million this year just because of new tax revenue resulting from higher property values.

I realize that the cost of running government goes up, and that someone has to pay for the services that we demand. Still, county and municipal commissioners shouldn’t look at all this additional revenue as “found money.” The people who pay these taxes are in serious need of some relief, and our elected officials need to deliver it.

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Palm Harbor is “hub of innovation.” Honest.

Q — If you are an inventor, where are you apt to live?

A — Right here in Palm Harbor.

Why? Beats me.

Late last month the Wall Street Journal ran a story called “The Most Inventive Towns in America”. It was a listing of U.S. towns that are home to the biggest number of inventors. The newspaper looked through new U.S. patents, and arranged them by the ZIP codes of the people who were granted the new patents.

I think everyone was very surprised when our own Palm Harbor, Fla., showed up as #11 on the list. It was the only Florida town to show up at all.

Now, if Palm Harbor was home to Microsoft, or IBM, this wouldn’t raise an eyebrow. But there is no company here that even resembles a big engineering-based outfit. So I’m kind of mystified, along with everyone else in town.

But whatever the reason, Palm Harbor is one of the nation’s 20 top “hubs of innovation,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

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Jill Mulry’s photos at Clearwater Fine Arts Festival

Jill Mulry is a photographer who lives in Seminole, and she will be one of the artists whose work will be on display at the Clearwater Fine Arts Festival at the Harborview Center this weekend.

Here is what her website has to say:

“A self taught photographer embracing a wide variety of interests, Jill Mulry is pleased to present her refreshing visions to the world of art.

“Arriving late to the art scene after a full time career as an educator, Jill has combined a lifelong passion of photography with her love of travel. Jill introduces us to the inspiration and surprises of nature through her pictures of flowers and animals, distant mountain and rainforest trails, architecture in its elegant and simplistic forms, and the emotions expressed by her people of character.

“All photographs, some of which have been slightly enhanced through the digital process, are printed by the photographer. To ensure the highest archival permanence of her prints, Jill uses the finest quality archival inks and papers.

“Jill Mulry’s photographs are on display in galleries, botanical gardens, fine shops and tea rooms on both the east and west coasts of Florida.”

You can see examples of Jill Mulry’s work on her website, www.jkatchcreations.com.

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