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Property tax revenues still a year away

Getting better, but not quite there yet.

Local governments should not expect an influx of property taxes to solve their budget woes this year, Harris County Appraisal District officials said Tuesday.

Assistant Chief Appraiser Guy Griscom estimated the countywide tax base, based on a Jan. 1 snapshot that will be finalized this summer, will see values increase by 2.23 percent over last year. Though the economy is strengthening, he said, the resulting increase in property values will not show up until values are gauged again on Jan. 1, 2013.

“Despite all the positive news on the horizon, we haven’t gotten there yet,” Griscom said. “You’re not going to get that turnover in one year. Markets just don’t move that fast.”

[...]

Jackson said he does not anticipate further layoffs in the county, adding that his office is attempting to restore employment in various departments to their levels before last year’s budget, such as by ending furloughs, restoring pay cuts or returning some employees from 32-hour work weeks to 40.

The county is expected to adopt a budget for the fiscal year that begins March 1 on March 13.

The city, which does not adopt a budget until late June, has not compiled a preliminary budget yet, so city officials had no comment Tuesday. In addition, property tax revenues account for 44 percent of the city’s general fund revenue, a lower percentage than its share of the county’s income.

The uptick in property values will not have a significant impact on local school districts under the state’s current school funding system.

Sales tax revenues, which are 27% of the city’s income, continue to do well as well. For all the gloom and doom w’ve been hearing lately, things are getting better. We’ll know more in a few months. I don’t want to sound too optimistic – we are in for another rough budget, and the pension fight is going to be ugly and contentious – but we’re pointing in the right direction. I just hope we can hold on until we get there.

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