Miami On the Hook For Millions In New Taxes On Marlins Parking Garages

When we recently counted down the six most absurd lies about the new Marlins Stadium, fib number one was that politicians were working for taxpayers. Even a casual glance over the deal made it clear: This $550 million stadium was a cripplingly expensive gift from struggling taxpayers to the millionaire Jeffrey Loria.

Today comes even more evidence: Miami taxpayers will likely have to pay millions in new property taxes every year on garages we already borrowed $100 million to build. And the Marlins get to keep all the profits! Woooo!

Just as damningly, Miami officials were apparently caught totally off guard by the new tax bill.

Miami-Dade Property Appraiser Pedro Garcia only recently broke the news to Mayor Tomas Regalado and other city honchos that they'll be liable for around $2 million or so in taxes every year on the garages, the Miami Herald reports.

A "steamed" Regalado -- who, remember, runs a city with a $105 million budget gap last year -- tells the Herald "this is going to be huge. That really complicates things for us."

The funny thing is, we wrote about this very issue in our feature about the stadium.

City activist Grace Solares told us in May that the city's "convoluted, Rube Goldberg-style" deal that aimed to spare both the team and the city any tax bills wouldn't work.

Sure enough, Garcia now says that since the Marlins are a for-profit enterprise keeping the lion's share of money made on the 5,700 parking spots the city paid to build, the tax-man is owed his due.

Unfortunately for taxpayers, before the Marlins would sign the city's deal, they insisted on a clause specifying they'd be on the hook for zero taxes.

Turns out, you can't build a private business a brand new facility, let them keep all the cash, and expect tax collectors to look the other way.

What a colossal clusterfuck. In the coming weeks, you'll likely hear city officials and Marlins heads alike posture angrily and declare, "There's nothing we can do. A deal has been signed!"

That's not strictly, true, of course. If both sides of a contract agree to renegotiate the terms, the deal can be restructured.

Regalado -- who, to his credit, did vote against the garage deal while on the commission -- would surely renegotiate the package to put the Marlins on the hook for some taxes.

So the onus lies on Loria, a guy who flat-out lied about his team raking in $49 million in profit in 2008 and 2009 while begging for handouts in County Hall.

Now we've come to this: we very likely could see the City of Miami next year forced into a new round of layoffs, furloughs and service cuts, all so taxpayers can foot the bill for Loria, who recently dropped $22 million to expand his Southamptons estate by six acres.

Can we occupy the Miami Marlins Stadium already?

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink