MANATEE -- Property values countywide rose by about 4 percent this year, reflecting a reviving economy that should ease the pressure on government budget planners.
Higher assessed values mean higher tax revenues for the city.
The July 1 preliminary certification of taxable values enables cities and other taxing authorities such as the School Board and the Children's Trust, to set budgets for the 2013-14 year and millage rates.
The preliminary taxable assessed value of all properties in Manatee County is about $24.1 billion, up about 4 percent from $23.2 billion last year, according to Mark Johns, director of appraisal services for the Manatee County Property Appraiser's Office.
County financial planners had estimated a 3.1 percent rise, said Jim Seuffert, county director of financial management.
"Considering several lean years and downsizing, it's nice to know the values are returning," said Nick Azzara, county information outreach coordinator. "Overall, it's an indication the local economy is improving, and that's good for everybody."
Among the bright spots of increasing value were beach areas on the county's western side and Lakewood Ranch on its eastern side, said Johns.
"A lot of the other areas of the county had just marginal increases, or were just flat in their value changes," Johns said.
The property value increase could generate up to $1 million more than expected, but how any extra money might be spent has yet to be decided, Seuffert said.
County Administrator Ed Hunzeker will use the appraiser's findings to define his final budget recommendations, Seuffert said. In coming weeks, the Manatee County Commission will set millage rates for next year, with public hearings on the budget slated for September.
In May, Hunzeker unveiled a preliminary $517.8 million budget predicated partly on the passage of a half-cent sales tax increase that would have paid for health care for the indigent.
But the proposal was nixed by voters during a special election June 18.
Hunzeker said later he would recommend a new budget similar to last year's.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.