Florida Gas disputes county appraisal

OKEECHOBEE — A dispute between the Okeechobee County Property Appraiser’s Office and Florida Gas over the assessed value of the gas lines (for property tax purposes) will go before a judge.

The dispute was in mediation. Florida Gas has appealed the mediator’s decision, he said.

The Okeechobee County Commission Thursday approved an increase of $51,000 in the Okeechobee County Property Appraiser’s budget for expenses in legal and other professional services in relation to the case.

County Property Appraiser Mickey Bandi said the difference would result in about $1.5 million in county tax dollars over a five-year period.

“This pipeline is going to be here for a long time,” he said. “We feel it is important.”

In other business, John Stoker, representing Waste Management, asked board to hold a Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act (TEFRA) hearing about $118,000,000 of tax-exempt bonds by Miami-Dade County Industrial Development Authority for infrastructure and capital improvements to Waste Management, Inc. Solid Waste Disposal and Collection Operations throughout Florida.

Mr. Stoker said Federal and state law requires the hearing.

“There is no risk or liability to the county,” explained Mr. Stoker.

County attorney John Cassels said the resolution reaffirms the fact that Okeechobee County has no liability.

Waste Management Inc. will refinance 2006 bonds and issuing new debt totaling $118 million; $7 million of which is for refinancing projects in Okeechobee County.

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