CAUGHT!?

Looks like Balfour Beatty may be at it again!  Have privatized military housing contractors been ratted out while trying to sneak a new tax exemption bill into the Florida Legislature?

Balfour Beatty’s local military housing affiliate, Southeast Housing LLC, owns all of the Navy family housing units in the Key West area.  Over a year ago The Blue Paper blew the whistle on the fact that the British conglomerate had failed to pay property taxes on its Key West properties [over 890 units] since 2007.  Balfour is still suing over the issue and hopes Circuit Court Judge David Audlin will soon render a decision that will get them off the hook for what is now well over $ 11 Million in back taxes not to mention a free ride on property taxes on into the future. 

Balfour had made an all-out attempt last year to get the Florida Legislature to grant a full exemption from ad valorem taxes.  Representative Holly Raschein had proposed a compromise that would exempt only those units that housed active duty military personnel and their families.   [In Key West a significant percentage of the housing is rented to non active duty tenants.] The ‘Raschein amendment’ was accepted by both the Florida House and Senate, but was vetoed by Governor Scott who favored a full exemption.

Apparently, this renewed attempt is a more stealth approach.  Proposed language, mimicking last year’s original bill for a full tax exemption to all privatized military housing in Florida, has been placed in the hands of Florida’s Office of Economic and Democratic Research [EDR] and was on their agenda for today [Friday March 28, 2014].  The EDR conducts Revenue Estimating Impact Conferences that are held periodically prior to, during, and subsequent to each legislative session to assess the impact of pending and passed legislation.

We contacted the office of State Representative Holly Raschein who investigated the matter immediately late yesterday.  Representative Raschein’s assistant Kate DeLoach told The Blue Paper her office had just been informed that the item has now been removed from the agenda.

John Dent, attorney for the Monroe County Property appraiser, told The Blue Paper that there is some risk that the tax exemption language could be piggy-backed onto another bill and ultimately be approved without anyone paying much attention to it.  DeLoach informed us that Representative Raschein plans to watch this issue very closely.

In the meantime, other Counties in Florida are following Monroe County’s lead in requiring privatized military housing contractors to pay ad valorem taxes.  In 2013 Florida’s Escambia County began taxing another of Balfour Beatty Communities housing complexes at the naval air station there.  Escambia’s property appraiser had denied BBC’s application for exemption and the company’s appeal to the Value Adjustment Board was also denied.  Balfour has refused to pay and recently filed a suit similar to the one pending in Monroe County.

Dent points out that if an exemption does make it through the legislature Monroe County taxing authorities would be required to refund over a million dollars in taxes that were paid when Peary Court was sold last year.  The City of Key West’s slice of that was $ 579,000.

According to Dent, passage of such a law would grant to profitable entities a tax break that is unjustified.  “In their proposal to the US Government they were required to assure that those taxes would be paid.  This would just be a windfall for profit making companies.  I don’t know how the legislature could even consider it.”

Key West The Newspaper [The Blue Paper] encourages spirited, open debate in comments on our stories. We do ask that you refrain from profanity, personal attacks and remarks that are off point. Please join the conversation!

4 comments on “CAUGHT!?

  1. “This would just be a windfall for profit making companies. I don’t know how the legislature could even consider it.”

    comment: that is assuming the legislature even knew it was there?

  2. I know how the legislature could consider it, but if I said how, I might be sued for libel. So, all I will say is, “Follow the money.” “Birds of a feather flock together.” “The apple don’t fall far from the tree.” “The fish rots from the head down.”

    Thanks, Arnaud and Naja, for staying on top of this. I know the bad guys hate getting caught with their fingers in plain view in the taxpayers’ coin purse, but that don’t usually stop them from keeping on trying.

    I can’t help but wonder if the current Peary Court Developer, I heard from South America, represented by Jim Hendrick, is any different from Balfour Beatty and Southeast Housing.

  3. What a surprise! Of course they would try something like this given their past actions. I wonder how Judge Audlin and Holly feel about it , and who was pushing it through in this seemingly underhanded fashion. Names please? Did they REALLY drop it from the agenda now that they have been exposed? Perhaps we should look at the minutes of that meeting to see who sponsored this little gambit. It was truly amazing that the bill last year was obviously tailored so EXACTLY to Balfour /Southeast’s situation dating back to 2007. Their lobbyists have probably been swarming Tallahsse ever since. So much for justice and democratic processes from this outfit and their minions. Reminds me of the series ” House of Cards” on Netflix! What’s next, Balfour? Will any other press look into this- probably not. Go Blue Paper!

  4. Holly Raschein has a degree in political science .She knows what to say to people and how to posture(con)
    She was probably playing good cop bad cop with Scott. Did she ask the legislative leaders for an override ?? I could not get an answer from her legislative aides at the time.
    The moral of this story is don’t be fooled by a pretty face and the blonde hair.
    A few months ago a group of fathers and myself met with Holly Rascheins aide to discuss how fathers are being discriminated against in the corrupt Florida family courts. Did you know that your wife or gf can have you evicted from your home for no reason with a protective order? The law was created with the fallacy that men are the exclusive perpetrators of domestic violence . They are not. Domestic violence is created equally by females against their male partners.
    We viewed this video produced by Florida fathers who were victimized by this horrible law. Holly , after watched this video said that she was not interested in reforming this law.
    So please do not be fooled by a pretty face . If our elected officials are confronted with laws and policies that are hurting people and after acknowledging these injustices still are not interested in helping , it is time to give someone else a chance. I also asked her know that she is aware how the prone restraignt is killing people, how can we expect her to champion ending this horrible police method? I never received a response back. Her aide became belligerent with me after I called her office.
    Please watch this video to learn how fathers and children are being hurt with this unfair law. I spoke with the two candidates running for family court judge, Attorney Bridges and Attorney Helms. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMXW0K2SD4g

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