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A Legislature lifeline on Marlins stadium deal: No taxes on parking garage

A Miami Herald story on the city of Miami’s controversial Marlins’ stadium contract--which left it on the hook for an unexpected property tax bill--summed it up with an all-encompassing one-word sentence: “Oopsie.”

Now, the state Legislature may be giving the city a lifeline on its surprise contract with the Marlins.

An amendment filed this week by Rep. Jose Diaz (R-Miami), would change the Florida Statutes by including new language to exempt cities from having to pay taxes on buildings that are contractually tied to tax-exempt facilities (read: taxpayer-funded stadiums). The amended bill, if it passes, would save the city as much as $2 million per year, an amount that took city commissioners by surprise in November when they learned about their soon-to-come property tax bill.

As part of the government-backed $642 million stadium contract, the Marlins included an unusual clause stating that the city is responsible for all taxes.

The amendment is “meant to protect city of Miami taxpayers from having to pay additional taxes,” said Diaz. “I can not imagine that the city was going to have to pay more taxes on the stadium.”

Diaz’s amendment, which was a small part of a wide-ranging tax reform bill, was passed unanimously with no debate at Wednesday’s Finance and Tax Committee in the House.

 

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I feel like I'm in law school already reading this...Major fail for the City of Miami lawyers. I think they should hire me...

Basically, the city of Miami might have to pay property taxes for the parking garages that they built for the stadium-the bill would $1.2MM per year.

According to the county, it was previously agreed when the ballpark deal was initially negotiated that they would be exempt from paying taxes. The city however has no written records of this & the contract actually says that they're liable to pay the taxes unless otherwise provided.

Additionally, the county claims that the garages are a benefit for the public (as they will be open even when not used by the Marlins) and they should therefore be exempt from taxes as there's a law which states: All property owned by a municipality and used exclusively by it for municipal or public reasons shall be exempt from taxation.

Regardless of how this turns out, it was really irresponsible for the City of Miami lawyers to not ensure that the actual contract stated that they would be exempt for the taxes as they claim was agreed upon during the initial negotiations.

Maybe I should consider going out of town for law school. Pathetic.

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