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Shores is facing another tough budget year with tax revenue continuing to fall

STORY BY LISA ZAHNER, (Week of December 15, 2011)

Based upon preliminary and incomplete numbers, the Town of Indian River Shores is looking at another tough budget year in 2012-2013 with a continued fall-off in property tax revenues, according to the county's top appraiser.

Bruce Goodwyn heads up the part of Property Appraiser David Nolte's office that monitors real estate transactions and converts that data into taxable values each year so local governments and homeowners can prepare for a rise or fall in tax revenues.

Hesitant to commit to any numbers, Goodwyn was put on the spot last week by Shores Town Councilman Dick Haverland when he asked for some direction to kick off a  discussion of the town's budget and pension issues.

"I didn't give them anything concrete, all I did was take a peek at some sales that had occurred so far for the year," Goodwyn said. "It kind of looks like the Town of Indian River Shores is going to continue on the same path as everybody else."

Figures are scheduled to be released to local governments on or before July 1 so they can begin setting final budgets and millage, or property tax rates.

Taxable values, by the time the taxes are actually paid, are based upon sales more than one year previous. For example, tax notices sent out in the fall of 2012 will reflect sales data collected between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2011.

"Because we're one year behind, I would just look at it that nothing's really changed from 2010," Goodwyn said.

Realtors on the barrier island report sales up this year, but an upward trend or even a stabilization of real property values would need to continue far into 2012 to result in an increase in taxable values in 2013.

Goodwyn said he could not pinpoint a percentage decline or even a range. He would not confirm a figure of less than 5 percent or between 5 to 10 percent because data from the end of the year is simply not in yet.

Property values in the Town of Indian River Shores have remained more stable than in Vero Beach or Indian River County as a whole, but even with the 2.5 percent decline last year, fewer tax dollars coming into coffers has made officials and department heads take a closer look at expenses.

The Shores Town Council was set to discuss potentially another year of declining property tax revenue when it met on Wednesday. Department heads generally begin fleshing out budgets for the upcoming fiscal year in January and February.