British firm could get early victory in legal fight with Monroe County if Scott signs property tax bill
A bill on Gov. Rick Scott’s desk could save a British company millions of dollars, while stymieing the Monroe County Property Appraiser’s office and setting a new precedent for calculating property taxes at privatize military housing.
SB 354, which passed the Legislature with bipartisan support last month, clarifies key provisions in Florida’s tax code, determining who is--and who isn't--eligible for property tax exemptions.
Those provisions are at the heart of a pending lawsuit between the Monroe County Property Appraiser and Southeast Housing, the subsidiary of UK-based Balfour Beatty Communities.
Monroe County sent Southeast Housing a bill for more than $11 million in back property taxes last year, after discovering that the company was renting units to civilians instead of exclusively to the military. Southeast took ownership of 890 Key West housing units from the U.S. Navy in 2007, under a deal inked through the U.S. Military Housing Privatization Initiative.
Southeast had been operating free of property taxes for several years, before Monroe County said the exemption was not appropriate. The property appraiser says Southeast should not get a government exemption since it is operating units for civilians.