Selby Gardens president and CEO Jennifer Rominiecki announced in an email to supporters on Monday that, due to a "technical issue" with the Value Adjustment Board, the gardens would ask the circuit court to resolve its tax exemption matter with the Sarasota County Property Appraiser in circuit court. A Special Magistrate of the Value Adjustment Board had previously recommended that the gardens' tax bill be reduced by $900,000 from an original $1 million.
"While we had hoped to reach an agreement through the Value Adjustment Board (an optional step in the legal process), we must now ask the Circuit Court to hear our case for the sake of not only Selby Gardens, but all nonprofits in the state of Florida," Rominiecki wrote.
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.