A popular Coconut Grove restaurant and marina are refusing to pay $2.5 million in back taxes owed on their properties.
Instead, Grove Key Marina and Scottys Landing filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Miami-Dade County Tax Collector Fernando Casamayor, asserting that they are not responsible for the tax bill.
Casamayor has threatened to revoke the businesses occupational licenses and corporate charters if they dont cut a check this month.
But the attorney for Scottys Landing and Grove Key Marina said that the businesses, both owned by Scott Wessel, sit on city of Miami property. When a lease was drawn up, state law exempted businesses on municipal land from paying property taxes.
Even though the law has since changed, nothing was ever written into the lease that would force Scottys Landing or Grove Key Marina to pay, he said.
The businesses want the tax collector enjoined from trying to collect the back taxes and revoking their licenses. The taxes date back to 1995, when a ruling by the state Supreme Court made the property taxable.
The proposed action by the tax collector is clearly outrageous, said attorney Norman Segall, who represents the businesses. Hes completely wrong and misguided.
The tax collector had not been served with a copy of the complaint Thursday, and Assistant County Attorney Jorge Martinez-Esteve said he had not yet reviewed the copy provided to his office.
Casamayor did not return calls seeking comment.
For a laid-back eatery, Scottys Landing has had its share of drama this year.
Its lease with the city expired over the summer, and Miami officials sought proposals from business owners interested in taking over.
A city-appointed selection team chose a new operator in June. But City Manager Johnny Martinez later decided to scrap the proposals because of irregularities in the competitive bidding process.