Orlando theme parks once again complain about how much they're worth


In what has become an annual tradition, the big three theme park operators in town have filed lawsuits accusing Orange County Property Appraiser Rick Singh's appraisal values of being too high. All three have filed lawsuits against the Orange County Property Appraiser's office after Singh appraised Disney World at $8.2 billion and Universal Orlando at $2.1 billion.

Last year, after appealing their $192,560,841 appraisal, SeaWorld received a bit lower appraisal of $182,477,297. That adjusted appraisal is from the Value Adjustment Board, made up of two county commissioners, a school board member, and two citizen members. Universal and Disney also appealed their appraisals last year.

The new lawsuits are no surprise. Singh's office is currently in pending lawsuits with SeaWorld over its value and with Universal. Universal sued over the value of its parking garages last year after Singh valued them at $148.6 million; this year those same garages are valued at $301.2 million. The area around Universal and throughout the tourism district has seen rapid growth in recent years which could, in part, be the reasoning behind the increase in value.

Disney has filed lawsuits regarding numerous tracts of property throughout Walt Disney World including the Boardwalk resort (with an assessed value of $48,876,577), the Team Disney building (with an assessed value of $29,013,759), the Casting building (with an assessed value of $ 12,107,088), and Magic Kingdom (which, according to the Orlando Sentinel, Singh valued at $414 million while Disney argues it is valued at $366 million). According to the Orlando Sentinel, Disney paid $118.3 million in property tax last year.

These differences can equal differences of millions in taxes. Other resorts, including Grand Cypress and Wyndham, have also sued Singh's office over their appraisals. The Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association have both endorsed Rick Singh's opponent Edward DeAguilera, who has been sympathetic toward the hospitality industry's call for lower appraisals.

Many of the lawsuits and appeals take years to work out, so no matter who wins Nov. 8, this story is sure to continue.

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