by Naja and Arnaud Girard…….
A law creating a property tax loophole for British mega-corporation Balfour Beatty and other military housing developers failed to materialize last Wednesday in the Florida Legislature.
HB 531 was adopted by the House of Representatives, but because it differs from the Senate Bill no law will issue, at least not until both chambers agree.
The Sentate Bill , passed April 4th, contained an amendment, not found in the House version, limiting the exemption to housing actually rented to active-duty military and their families. Evidence assembled by Key West The Newspaper shows that approximately 40% of the NAS Key West housing owned by Balfour Beatty’s Southeast Housing LLC is rented to civilians.
It was interesting to see that 25% of Representatives voted against the tax loophole, a significant come-back from the initial unanimous approvals of just a few weeks ago.
Representative Holly Raschein stood her ground, “I know all too well about the importance of promoting our military and military bases. But this isn’t about that. This is about an international developer circumventing our tax structure at the cost and to the detriment of our schools and our first responders.”
The House Bill’s sponsor, Representative John Patronis, repeated his mantra regarding the necessity for Florida to remain competive in maintaining and attracting the Military, but didn’t address Representative Raschein’s concerns regarding the poor quality of education for military and civilian children alike that results when developers like Balfour Beatty fail to pay their share of local property taxes.