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Stadium lawsuit ruling on hold again


babaru
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There?s been another delay in the final ruling for auto dealer Norman Braman?s lawsuit that challenges funding for the Florida Marlins new stadium.

 

Miami Dade Circuit Judge Jeri Beth Cohen was expected to issue a final order in the case Thursday or Friday. But she sent lawyers in the case an e-mail Friday saying she is still waiting for a Florida Supreme Court case to become final before issuing her ruling.

 

The Supreme Court case is Strand vs. Escambia County, a controversial battle over public financing for a road project in northern Florida.

 

?I have just spoken to the clerk at the Supreme Court who has informed me that the court has not yet ruled on the motion for rehearing in the Strand case,? Cohen wrote Friday in an e-mail to attorneys in the Braman case. ?Although I anticipate that the court will deny the rehearing, it is incumbent on me to wait until the decision becomes final before issuing a definitive ruling (in the Braman case). Thank you for your patience.?

 

At issue in the final question for Braman?s case is whether a public vote could be required because some aspects of a funding plan behind the stadium project use tax-increment financing (TIF). TIF refers to the commitment of future property tax revenue to pay off bonds for public improvements.

 

Braman?s lawsuit challenged a public funding plan behind the stadium project.

 

The high court already has ruled that a referendum is not required for special tax district funding of the Escambia County road project, but the plaintiff in the case, veterinarian Gregory Strand, asked for a rehearing.

 

Cohen said she would rule against Braman, but was waiting for the Supreme Court ruling to become final.

 

The new stadium is to be almost entirely paid for by tourism tax dollars, but Braman questioned the use of tax-increment financing for other parts of the city and county?s megaplan ? a $3 billion program that includes the stadium project.

 

The Marlins provided the current stadium cost estimate of $515 million, and the city has estimated parking for 6,000 cars will cost about $94 million.

 

The county will consider the project?s final details, including the cost of infrastructure improvements to utilities and streets, in a series of agreements to be negotiated with the city and the team later this year.

 

Previously, Cohen ruled that the stadium project represents a ?paramount public purpose? under the law, deserving of public tax dollars. The trial lasted eight days in July.

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Why am I not surprised.

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?Although I anticipate that the court will deny the rehearing, it is incumbent on me to wait until the decision becomes final before issuing a definitive ruling (in the Braman case). Thank you for your patience.?

 

Needless to say a rehearing would be a huge blow to the 2011 opening(and that is all ready doubtful).

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