GARY R. NIKOLITS, as Property Appraiser for Palm Beach County, Appellant,
FRANKLIN L. HANEY, EMELINE W. HANEY and ANNE M. GANNON, as Tax Collector for Palm Beach County, Florida, Appellees.
final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
from the Circuit Court for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit,
Palm Beach County; Edward L. Artau, Judge; L.T. Case No.
B. Jagolinzer and Jeffrey M. Clyman, West Palm Beach, for
Kreusler-Walsh and Stephanie L. Serafin of Law Office of
Kreusler-Walsh, Compiani & Vargas, P.A., West Palm Beach,
and Christopher M. Larmoyeux of Larmoyeux & Bone, P.L.,
West Palm Beach, for appellees Franklin L. Haney and Emeline
Jo Bondi, Attorney General, and Jeffrey M. Dikman, Assistant
Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Amicus Curiae State of
Florida Department of Revenue.
property appraiser appeals a final judgment in favor of
homeowners declaring null and void corrections in property
value made by the appraiser for tax years 2011-13 on the
appellees' homestead property, due to the appraiser's
successful appeal of the Value Adjustment Board's
lowering of the value for the 2010 assessments. The appraiser
argues that the corrections made to the 2011-13 tax year
assessed values as a result of the circuit court's upward
adjustment of the value of the homestead for 2010 were
ministerial and allowable. We agree that the statutes and
rules allow for corrections to subsequent years' values,
which constitute mathematical corrections. However, the
homeowners had the right to challenge the corrected
valuations as being greater than market value, of which right
they were deprived. We thus reverse and remand to allow for
the correction of the valuations and also for new
notifications to allow the homeowners their right to petition
the Value Adjustment Board to contest the new valuations.
2008, the appellee homeowners purchased property in Palm
Beach County for $23, 500, 000 and expended another $2, 800,
000 for improvements. They were given a homestead tax
exemption for 2009. In 2010, the property appraiser's
office assessed the property at a market value of $19, 780,
167, which prompted the homeowners to petition the Value
Adjustment Board ("VAB") to reduce the assessment.
Even though they had invested more than $24, 000, 000 in the
property, they claimed that their homestead was worth only
$12, 000, 000 due to a downturn in the real estate market.
The VAB reduced the market value to $12, 000, 000. As
required by section 193.122(3), Florida Statutes (2010), the
property appraiser re-certified the tax roll after the VAB
revision to $12, 000, 000. Exercising the right to challenge
the VAB decision, the property appraiser filed an original
action in the circuit court pursuant to sections 193.122(4)
and 194.036(1)(a), Florida Statutes (2010).
the property was a homestead, the Save Our Homes provision of
section 193.155(1), Florida Statutes (2010), applied to any
increases in the property's value. The Save Our Homes cap
allows an annual increase of only 3% in the assessed value of
property, or the yearly increase in the Consumer Price Index,
whichever is less. Under section 193.155(2), Florida
Statutes, if the capped value exceeds the market value in a
given year, the capped value will be reduced to the market
value. Thus, the 2010 capped value of the homeowners'
homestead was lowered from $19, 780, 167 to $12, 000, 000.
the property appraiser's suit challenging the VAB
reduction in value was pending, the property appraiser's
office applied the Save Our Homes cap to the VAB value of
$12, 000, 000 for subsequent years so that the property's
value for tax purposes was capped at $12, 180, 000 in 2011,
$12, 545, 400 in 2012, and $12, 758, 672 in 2013. Despite
this reduction in valuation due to the VAB change, the
property appraiser's office still provided Truth in
Millage ("TRIM") notices to the homeowners showing
the market (just) value of the property to be $17, 865, 887
in 2011, $17, 762, 500 in 2012, and $19, 614, 912 in 2013.
The TRIM notices thus provided three different values for the
property: the market value estimated by the Property
Appraiser, the capped or assessed value, and the taxable
pending suit by the property appraiser led to a final
judgment in 2014 rejecting the VAB's $12, 000, 000
assessment, as well as the property appraiser's
assessment of $19, 780, 167. The court found that the proper
market value was $17, 500, 000. Neither side appealed the
the property appraiser concluded that the capped values for
2011 through 2013 required recalculation since they had
initially been calculated based on the now-discarded $12,
000, 000 assessment. The property appraiser filed three
Certificates of Correction to revise the 2011, 2012 and 2013
tax rolls. This changed the 2010 market value and assessed
values to $17, 150, 000, and the capped valuations for the
ensuing years were raised accordingly. As a result of the
Certificates of Correction, the homeowners' taxes
increased over $90, 000 for each of the three tax years.
homeowners then filed a declaratory judgment action against
the property appraiser and tax collector to dispute the right
to the additional taxes. The property appraiser responded by
pointing out that the final judgment had increased the market
value assessment in 2010 from $12, 000, 000 to $17, 150, 000.
Revision of the subsequent years' valuations constituted
a mathematical correction authorized by Florida
Administrative Code Rule 12D-8.021(2)(a)6, through the
issuance of a Certificate of Correction.
ruling on the declaratory judgment, the court rejected the
property appraiser's argument that he was seeking to
correct a clerical, administrative, mathematical, or factual
error other than an error in judgment. The court found it was
not an "error of omission or commission" under
Florida Administrative Code Rule 12D-8.021(2)(a)(12),
concluding that the rule seeks to prevent issuance of
Certificates of Correction for errors of judgment. The court
reasoned that the VAB, as well as the final judgment, were
simply correcting an error in judgment as to the original
valuation by the property appraiser, and the subsequent
corrections were "seeking to make corrections based on a
change in value due to an error in judgment." The court
also concluded that the property appraiser violated due
process because he failed to provide the homeowners with
notice and opportunity to challenge the corrections for
2011-13. The court ...