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Lawmakers give Miami a break on Marlins stadium garages property taxes

Miami leaders breathed a collective sigh of relief when, less than three hours from the end of the 60-day legislative session, state lawmakers exempted the cash-strapped city from having to pay an annual $1.2 million in property taxes on garages at the new Marlins ballpark.

And the city received more good news Monday: Miami-Dade Property Appraiser Pedro Garcia, who had indicated he would likely send the city a property-tax bill for the parking garages, said he would not challenge the new legislative tax break.

“It’s a great thing for the people of Miami,” said a relieved Mayor Tomás Regalado, whose city is facing a budget hole of more than $35 million for the next fiscal year.

Regalado, an early-to-bed kind of guy, stayed up late Friday awaiting the crucial vote, which took place in the waning hours of the session in Tallahassee.

At 9:23 p.m., he got the phone call. Lawmakers had passed the legislation. “I slept like a baby that night,” Regalado said.

Late last year, Garcia informed the city that it could be on the hook to pay taxes for the four garages. By leasing all 5,700 parking spots to the Marlins on game days, Garcia said, the facility would no longer be used for a public purpose, as required by law to receive a tax break. But the city countered that the garages would be available to the public the rest of the time. More here.