Marie Selby Botanical Gardens' downtown Sarasota campus

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens' downtown Sarasota campus

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens will maintain its property tax exemption, its president and CEO Jennifer Rominiecki announced in an email to supporters this week, calling the recommendation from a Special Magistrate of the Value Adjustment Board an "overwhelming victory" for the nonprofit. She added that the recommendation will result in a reduction of approximately $900,000 from Selby Gardens’ original $1 million property tax bill.

Sarasota County Property Appraiser Bill Furst first challenged the institution's tax exempt status in 2019 and declined to renew it last May; he cited the presence of the for-profit food vendor Michael's On East as his reason for denying the exemption. Seven other nonprofits received similar revocations. There are currently two bills in play in the Florida legislature—Senate Bill 1214 and House Bill 889, led by Sarasota State Sen. Joe Gruters and Miami Rep. David Borrero, respectively—that, if passed, would confirm that a nonprofit entity's property tax exemption cannot be jeopardized by accessory uses such as restaurants or gift shops.

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