Florida’s three largest counties, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, are reporting their first annual increase in taxable property values since 2007.

“Though modest, these gains are a credit-positive indicator for local governments in a state that has been plagued by precipitous declines in property values over the last four years,” Moody’s Investors Service analyst Dora Lee said in a special report last week.

Taxable values in Miami-Dade County increased by 1.5%, Broward’s values grew by 1.2%, and Palm Beach County’s property values rose by 0.1%.

“Growth in taxable values has a direct and positive impact on limited ad valorem tax bonds, which are secured by revenues derived from a specific, voter-approved property tax millage,” Lee said. “An increase in taxable value directly strengthens revenues pledged to secure these bonds.”

Declining property values moderated in most other South Florida counties, as well as Sarasota and Hillsborough on the west coast, she said.

The economic downturn began almost four years ago and hit Florida’s real estate market particularly hard.

In addition, legislators and voters have imposed limitations on revenue-raising flexibility and increased exemptions on property taxes over the last few years.

“As a result, many local governments used reserves to fund revenue shortfalls or implemented significant expenditure reductions such as layoffs or reductions in services,” Lee said, adding that home values began to rise last year and should help local governments fill budget gaps.

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