Spared last year, Surfside condo owners hit with property tax bills totaling about $800,000

When a high-rise condominium in Surfside collapsed last year, killing 98 people, a wave of sympathy reached as far away as Tallahassee as Gov. Ron DeSantis and state legislators waived hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax bills for condominium owners.
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However, her generosity did not extend to this year.
Tax bills will soon be sent to the 136 unit owners in Champlain Towers South -- based on their share of the value of the nearly five-acre oceanfront property, according to the Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser's Office. The vacant land is valued at $41.3 million, bringing the total property tax bill to $787,000.
The average single bill is about $5,785 — although each condo owner's taxes vary based on the size of the unit.
For many homeowners, it's the second time they feel they got a bad deal. In May, they said they were pressured into paying their $96 million in property losses in a class action lawsuit, complaining that the compensation undervalued their units. Their initial frustration was also fueled by the $1 billion settlement for the families of the 98 people who died in the collapse last June.
"It doesn't sit well with owners who are also victims that not only did we get a reduced settlement amount and the lowest settlement amount, and now you're coming after us to pay property taxes as well?" said Oren Cytrynbaum, an attorney whose family owned two Champlain Towers South units but was not present the night the 12-story building collapsed.
"We're grateful for the settlement, but for many owners, that additional $5,000-$7,000 deduction makes a difference in our lives," he said, noting that the tax payment comes from each owner's share of the settlement of 96 million US dollars must be made. "It's not trivial for us. That could cover a few extra months rent or other bills that owners are paying for 14 months of eviction from their homes.”
Cytrynbaum said he and others do not understand why their tax bills should be paid from their settlement and not from the balance of the proceeds from the sale of the Collins Ave property. 8777. The site was sold for $120 million to a wealthy Middle Eastern developer, who completed the purchase in late July.
"Owners will receive compensation for the loss of their homes - not the proceeds from the sale of the property," he said. "We don't believe the burden of property taxes should be placed on owners if we don't receive the full sale price."
Cytrynbaum's former neighbors share his frustration.
"The property owners have been taken advantage of throughout the case and now to say that we should pay taxes is like an insult to injury," said Carlos Zaidenweber, whose family-owned Unit 112. "It's frustrating. It's unfair. It's another blow.”
"Once they had the $1 billion settlement, they could have given the owners at least $120 million from the property sale," Zaidenweber said. "The sacrifices come first and my family is grateful to be alive, but throughout the process we were told, 'Now accept this deal and be grateful, or else' and in the end, the owners didn't get anything either houses only approaching the value of their property.”
Now the homeowners say they plan to write Sen. Jason Pizzo, D-Miami, to see if he can convince state lawmakers to waive their property tax bills for this year. The legislature must allow Miami-Dade to levy property taxes; The district cannot do this alone.
Attorney Michael Goldberg, receiver of the Champlain Towers South homeowners' association in the class action, said he understands the feelings of homeowners who have lost their homes. However, he emphasized that Miami-Dade County is required by state law to appraise real estate and collect taxes on it.
"This is no different than selling your property," Goldberg said. "And if you sell your property, you have to pay your property tax."
Goldberg recently alerted the 136 former homeowners to property tax bills and other outstanding expenses like mortgages. In a letter, Goldberg explained that they would receive information about their tax bills later that month and that they would have to pay them out of their settlement funds.
In an interview with the Miami Herald, Goldberg said owners of the Champlain Towers South units always knew they would have to pay property taxes this year. He noted that the bills would be prorated based on the period from January, when the county appraised the vacant Collins Avenue lot, to July, when the closing of the sale was complete. The developer, who recently bought the land, is responsible for tax accounting for the rest of the year.
"Unfortunately, property taxes are out of our hands," Goldberg said. "It will come from the [settlement] proceeds."
Ron DeSantis
American politician

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