For the first time in six years property values are on the rise in Sarasota County. That means more tax revenue and a growing budget for the local government.
Initial estimates by the property appraiser have home values rising 3%. "Some of the big news was that this was the first year in six years that the taxable values increase for Sarasota County." Financial guru for the county Steve Botelho says more tax money coming in will help get some projects done. Projecting to spend $103 million more on capital improvement then this year. It includes a new emergency communications system, an emergency operations building, three fire stations, improvements to roads, bridges, and septic systems to name a few. "$90 million of the increases are for capital projects."
Hiring could also be going on. An additional 100 plus workers proposed in the budget. Needed for things like building inspection, and maintenance to facilities like athletic fields which have suffered in recent years. "The board knew that was a good asset to put money in to attract visitors to utilize our athletic fields."
Botelho says despite the additional money the county is still taking in around $90 million less annually then it did during the boom. They expect to use about $20 million from it's savings. "We are grateful for the additional revenue but we are still using some fund balance to mitigate the shortfall caused in other years."
Thankful for saving during the good years. Sarasota County has the third-lowest property tax rate in the state. Hopeful the worst is behind us. "Just happy we are seeing some turnaround and hopefully it is a good sign of things to come."
The final budget wont be approved by commissioners until the end of September.