Landfill sues over property tax
DADE CITY - The owners of a controversial northeast Pasco County landfill are suing Property Appraiser Mike Wells to lower their property tax bill. Angelo’s Aggregate Materials, which has been battling Pasco County and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection over plans for a residential waste landfill at the site, disputed the $2.8 million appraisal. Angelo’s operates a construction landfill on the 237-acre site about 4 miles southeast of Dade City. The original 2012 assessment amounted to almost $12,000 an acre. Angelo’s appealed to the value adjustment board, and in December a special magistrate recommended Wells lower the appraisal to $2.3 million.“We don’t weigh these things lightly,” Wells said. “If a taxpayer sues, he generally has a legitimate complaint.” But in this case, Wells and his staff are standing by their valuation. Wells said he suspects the property actually is worth more than $2.8 million. “We don’t just dream these things up,” Wells said. “His operation is becoming more complex out there.” Last year Pasco commissioners granted a request from Angelo’s to expand capabilities at the landfill. Angelo’s had a permit to accept shredded tires and crushed concrete but couldn’t shred tires or crush concrete on-site. Now it will be able to process materials on-site. “It’s a serious matter,” Wells said. Angelo’s “brought in an expert who claimed the capacity of the landfill was less than we thought. I was not in a position to spend taxpayer dollars to fight it then, but I am now.” The complaint filed in the Sixth Circuit accuses Wells of failing to follow Florida law and overvaluing the property. The case also names Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Olson and interim Florida Department of Revenue Director Marshall Stranburg as defendants. Angelo’s attorney, Blake Gaylord, declined comment. Angelo’s has paid its $43,510 tax bill in full, but the company wants a refund for the amount it claims it overpaid, according to the complaint. Olson said his office has refunded Angelo’s more than $7,000 based on the special magistrate’s recommendation. “Those checks are in the mail,” he said. Angelo’s initially applied for the residential waste landfill permit in 2006. That same year, property taxes on the two parcels jumped 90 percent to $71,698. The proposed residential waste landfill has drawn widespread opposition from Tampa area cities, businesses and residents who fear the site’s proximity to the Withlacoochee River and Green Swamp could contaminate the water supply. The Florida DEP twice has rejected Angelo’s permit application. Early in 2012, DEP Secretary Herschel Vinyard upheld the state’s earlier rejection of the landfill permit, but Angelo’s appealed the ruling to an administrative law judge. A ruling is expected this summer.