In his first public comments since a state audit in December said the developer’s tax bills were excessive, Joe DeGroot of the Miami-Dade Development Authority (MDDA) said he was going to stop paying his taxes.
“If I don’t pay my taxes in 30 days, I’ll have to go to court,” he told a Miami Herald reporter at a conference call Monday.
“I think it’s important to recognize that we are under audit.”
DeGRoot, whose company, Miami-based EMD Development, is in the process of buying a 10-acre tract of land from the city of Miami for $10 million, said he did not believe that the audit would be a serious challenge to his ability to continue to pay his taxes or to build his development.
DeGroots is scheduled to meet with state lawmakers on Tuesday to discuss his tax issues, but he declined to say if he planned to file for bankruptcy.
DeGsuli has spent more than $6 million on the development project, which will include a hotel, offices and a public plaza.
The project has received city approvals and is scheduled for completion in late 2021.
“In all honesty, the city is going to make sure that everything is done right, and I think that’s the only thing that’s going to be going wrong,” DeGreesi said.
“It’s not a matter of if we’re going to file bankruptcy, it’s a matter if we have to file.”
DeGsoli said he has paid nearly $2 million in taxes to the city and has filed for more than 1,200 exemptions to the code that exempts developers from paying taxes.
He said the audit does not indicate he owes more in taxes than his developers are obligated to pay.
“At the end of the day, I have not made any money,” he said.
Degsoli said that the project would include an indoor water park and outdoor swimming pool.
In addition to the development, the development will also include the city’s largest hotel, a parking garage and a large hotel parking lot.
The developer said that his company will also use a “community enhancement” tax credit to help pay for the project, though he declined further details on how the credits would work.
De Groot said he believes that the city has the legal authority to issue a writ of mandate to the MDDA to seize the property.
“We’re going forward with the best legal option, and the city does have the authority to do that,” he added.
“They have a writ, but we’re not going to pursue it.”
DeGroot said the county has asked him to pay a $20 million bond and have the project built as a “conditional sale” because the city did not allow a developer to build a hotel on the site until 2026.
The county has also asked De Groots to pay $100 million in fees for his project.
De Groot’s comments came a day after the MDEA released a new audit that found the developer owes more than 10,000 dollars in unpaid taxes.
“We have not yet received any notice from the county, but I will be making all the necessary arrangements to pay the money that is due, including filing for bankruptcy,” De Groomsi said in a statement to the Herald.
“Our goal has been to build the largest development in the Miami area, and we will continue to do so until the property is completed.
I will continue my efforts to make it happen.”
In a letter to the Miami Herald, the MDADA said that while it was reviewing the audit, it had not found any issues with the project.
“While we do not believe the audit is warranted and we are confident that our audit findings are valid, the county is currently reviewing all of the documents related to this audit and will release any updates as they become available,” MDADAs letter said.
The MDDA audit also found that a $2.6 million city tax exemption was improperly applied to the project and that the county had improperly applied a tax credit for the hotel to other developers.
The audit also cited issues with other city officials, including the MDCHA’s Chief Development Officer, who had signed off on the project but was not aware of any issues.
The MDCHA said that it will review the MDDEA’s audit and its response to the audit.
According to the state’s fiscal year 2018, MDDA issued $4.5 million in tax exemptions, including $1.4 million in the development tax credit, to developers to finance the project’s construction.