On the last day of the Florida Legislature’s annual session Friday, lawmakers gave Miami an exemption from paying property taxes on the four parking garages it financed for the Miami Marlins’ new baseball stadium.
The city sold $101 million of bonds to build the garages, assuming that they would be exempt from taxes. However, Miami-Dade County property appraiser Pedro Garcia informed the city that the structures would go on the tax rolls upon completion because they will not be used solely for a public purpose.
In addition to Garcia’s ruling, the contract between the city and the Marlins specifically states that the city will be responsible for all taxes. Most public contracts make the private user responsible for property taxes.
The city leased all 5,700 parking spaces to the Marlins for every home game and special team events, though the team pays $10 for each parking spot.
Officials said the garages would not generate enough revenue for the city to cover the taxes and debt service, so additional funds would have to come from the city budget.
Miami sold $84.5 million of tax exempt parking revenue bonds and $16.8 million of taxable bonds in 2010. Miami-Dade County sold the bulk of the bonds used to finance the $642 million Major League Baseball stadium. The Marlins contributed $120 million.
In December, the city and county received notices from the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with an investigation of the Marlins stadium bonds. The SEC demanded an expansive list of documents, video, and audio recordings related to the financings, and dealings with MLB and the Marlins, including the ballclub’s ability to contribute to the stadium financing.
The retractable-roof facility with 37,000 seats is on the site of a former football stadium on land donated by the city.
The stadium opened March 6 for a Marlins exhibition game with the University of Miami.
Exhibition games against the New York Yankees will be held April 1-2, with the regular season starting at the new stadium April 4 against the Cardinals.