Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Southern Gardens Settles With Kristina Kulpa

Attorneys Recover More Than Clients In Tax Case?

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Southern Gardens Citrus Processing, Inc has settled with Hendry County Tax Appraiser Kristina Kupla after a year of court hearing and mediation talks. Southern Gardens had sued Kulpa, as county property appraiser, Peggy Hampton as county tax collector, and James Zingall as director of the state Department of Revenue over the valuation of taxable tangible personal property at the Hendry county citrus processing plant.

Observers say three out-of-area attorneys representing the parties probably earned more in fees than their clients recovered in any tax savings  in the lawsuit filed in the Hendry Circuit Court last year.

Attorneys Robert Kelley Jr. of Tampa, Gaylord Wood of Bunnell, Fl., and Mark Aliff of Tallahassee, attorneys for Southern Gardens, Kristina Kulpa, and the Department of Revenue respectively, filed a stipulated Final Judgment last week with the court mutually agreeing to lower the value on the Southern Gardens taxable personal property, and a refund any taxes paid in excess of the new amount due.

The original tax value was lowered from $75,202,550 as calculated by the Hendry tax appraiser's office to an agreed amount of $60,729,960. 

Hendry Tax Appraiser Kristina Kulpa's office has been on the defense for the last year over tax valuations, fighting over property appraisals of over a thousand Hendry real estate parcels, after owners disputed the higher property tax appraisals last year.

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