LARGO -- Largo has won the latest battle in the ongoing war with Pinellas County over annexation policies and procedures.
In an order signed Friday by Judge Crockett Farnell of the Circuit Court, Largo was upheld in its assertion that it was entitled to tax revenues immmediately from areas annexed in 2002 and 2003.
When Largo made its annexation action, the county's Property Appraiser and Tax Collector said that the annexed territory could not be put on the Largo tax roll at that time.
The city, through its attorney, Alan Zimmet, argued that Florida Statutes require that annexed property can be included on the city's tax roll if it was annexed before the city's final adoption of its millage rate.
Crockett upheld this view of the law and granted the city's motion for summary final judgment.
The defendants, which included Pinellas County in addition to Jim Smith, the Property Appraiser, and Diane Nelson, the Tax Collector, had filed a similar cross motion.
Crockett's finding said that the definition of the term "levy" was the crux of the controversy.
Largo contended that taxes are levied on the date the city adopts its millage rate.
The city argued that because the Tax Appraiser had varying cutoff dates for its definition of levying taxes, all of which are prior to the date when taxes are legally levied, the city was consequently deprived of revenue and the taxpayers were denied the benefits of annexation for that year.
In his written decision, Farnell cited Florida Statute 171.061 which says in essence that an annexed area may not be subject to municipal ad valorem taxes if the annexation date falls after the municipality levies such tax.
Annexations, particularly by Largo, come under fire by the county and obstacles are often put in the way.
Zimmet told the mayor and city commission in a letter dated Monday that the city must now proceed under the law to collect the taxes otherwise denied it for the properties annexed in 2002 and 2003.
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