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Devil Rays file suit over property tax bill

ST. PETERSBURG - The Tampa Bay Devil Rays sued Pinellas County's property appraiser Monday over a property tax bill of about $35,000 that the team says it should not have to pay.

By Times staff reports

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 12, 2000


ST. PETERSBURG -- The Tampa Bay Devil Rays sued Pinellas County's property appraiser Monday over a property tax bill of about $35,000 that the team says it should not have to pay.

City officials have said the Rays' long-term lease of city-owned Tropicana Field provides that the baseball club -- not the city -- pay the bill sent by Property Appraiser Jim Smith. But the Rays don't think anyone should pay the bill.

John Higgins, Rays senior vice president and general counsel, said a case pending in the Florida Supreme Court involving Sebring's auto racing track should resolve a statewide legal battle between municipalities and county property appraisers.

The dispute is whether taxes can be assessed on publicly owned facilities -- such as stadiums and race tracks -- that are leased to private, for-profit operators.

The Rays also sued Smith last year. That case is still pending.

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