Property Appraisal Settlement Results in Nearly $8 Million Refund for Walt Disney World
The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that Walt Disney World will receive a financial boost from the settlement of a property tax grievance. Reports indicate that Disney will receive around $1.3 million for the 2015 tax year. Similar amounts will be paid to Disney for the 2016 through 2020 tax years according to Orange County Tax Collector Scott Randolph. In all, Disney should have nearly $8 million returned.
Disney filed the grievance in 2016 as a result of what it saw as unfair appraisals of its theme parks and other properties. Former Orange County Property Assessor Rick Singh calculated the property values. Singh has since been replaced by Amy Mercado. Mercado was willing to sit down with Disney’s lawyers in April.
“The numbers never changed. What changed was the willingness to have a conversation and go to mediation,” Mercado said.
Disney continued to pay property taxes in full. According to Randolph, Orange County held the funds in reserve due to the pending litigation.
“We’ve been anticipating [the refunds] but, of course, we’re not involved in the negotiations so we never know exactly what the settlements are going to be,” Randolph said. “But a couple of years ago I had discussions with the big taxing authorities — the city, the county and the schools — and I said, ‘Hey, you should know there’s a lot of litigation out there, and we’re holding back more [money] in reserves than what we would normally hold back.’ “
Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld also sued Singh in 2016. Settlements have yet to be announced for those lawsuits.
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