Jim Steinberg, Staff Writer
Posted: 04/22/2013 11:24:13 AM PDT

Property values in parts of San Bernardino County are on the rise, a sign that the regional economy could be on the mend, county officials said Monday.

But it comes with a catch: higher taxes.

Increased values, according to Assessor Dennis Draeger, come after years of declines reported since 2008, when the Office of the Assessor began reviewing thousands of values across the county. In that review, more than 200,000 property values were reduced at a time when the Inland Empire’s housing market was sinking.

But as the economy slightly brightens, Draeger on Monday projected that the 2013 assessment roll will show increases, a sign that the real estate market is recovering in some county pockets, he said.

Those increases, however, are a double-edge sword, said Draeger.

“This is a mixed blessing for property owners,” he said.

Higher market values will mean spikes in assessed values, which equals higher property taxes.

Draeger acknowledged that potential on Monday, saying that just as there was no legal limit as to how much his office could reduce values in the recession, conversely there’s no limit to how fast he can assess upward and raise taxes on that increase value – as long as they don’t exceed limitations set into law by Prop. 13.

The assessor’s announcement on Monday comes as recent economic reports show the Inland Empire’s unemployment rate may finally escape double-digit territory this year.

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