Mobile home community preps for second tax fight

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VENICE--Mike Rafferty thought his tax troubles were over back in March, when the Sarasota County Value Adjustment Board ruled that property values in the Bay Indies mobile home park in Venice had not been properly calculated.

"We got our tax refund and we figured that was the end of that," said Rafferty.

But according to court documents filed in April, County Property Appraiser Bill Furst has decided to appeal the adjustment board's march decision.

He's filed suit against Bay Indies' parent company, seeking back taxes and a twelve- percent penalty.

"It seems unusual that we would not have heard somewhere along the line that this suit had been filed," said Rafferty.

Rafferty worries if this suit succeeds, residents in each of the county's fifty-six mobile home communities will be subjected to inflated property values, and thus, additional taxes.

He says now Bay Indies' parent company will essentially go to court to defend the March decision of the county's value adjustment board.

"That's the irony of the whole situation," said Rafferty, "it seems completely unfair that the property appraiser will go out and get a private legal firm to represent his interests and his legal suit, paying for this legal fees with taxpayer money...he's suing the taxpayers and now the owner is going to end up defending the value adjustment board that granted us relief."

And with many older residents on fixed incomes, Rafferty knows any tax increase will be a burden.

"My guts telling me we've got a fight ahead of us," said Rafferty.

ABC7 News reached out to Furst for comment but he has not yet returned our phone calls.