Orange County property appraiser appeals ruling in Disney tax dispute

Orange County Property Appraiser Rick Singh says his office is appealing a ruling from a judge who sided with Walt Disney World in a dispute over the market value of the Yacht and Beach Club Resort.

The theme park sued the Orange County Property Appraiser's office in 2016 after OCPA assessed Yacht and Beach Club Resort at a value of nearly $337 million in 2015. Disney officials first argued that the 65-acre property is actually worth closer to about $189 million, then in July argued it was worth $209 million. For some context, Singh points out that the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, a property of about seven acres, has a market value of $254 million.

Judge Thomas Turner, though, agreed with Disney officials in July, saying the methodology used by OCPA was flawed and ruled Disney should be refunded $1.2 million in property taxes collected by Orange County.

"We are pleased with the judge’s ruling, which confirms the property appraiser’s methodology was inappropriate and unconstitutional, and led to an unlawful 118 percent increase in the assessed value of Disney’s property," a spokesperson for Disney said in a statement after the July ruling.

Singh says the materials presented by Disney were "grossly and skillfully flawed and devoid of both proper and accepted appraisal methodologies, which are applied to every hotel and resort property in Orange County."

"We will continue to vigorously defend our valuation to ensure that Walt Disney World pays its fair share to Orange County’s tax roll," Singh says in a statement.

Singh argues errors in the court's calculations came resulted from "a hybrid of numbers and formulas provided by witnesses from Disney and the Property Appraiser and combined the two methods to come up with the value, which is not how an accurate and just appraisal is completed." Singh adds the court ignored income Disney's resort generates from shops, restaurants, amenities and convention space.

"We are confident that a closer review of the calculations used to determine value will result in the ruling being overturned," Singh says. "It is simply illogical that The Yacht and Beach Club – with nearly 1,200 guest rooms and over 100,000 square feet of meeting space – has a market value of $209 million."

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