The Real Deal Miami

Doral won’t ask county’s property appraiser to reassess Trump resort for taxes

Trump representative Ed Russo suggested political motives for the proposed resolution

August 24, 2016 12:00PM
By Mike Seemuth

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Donald Trump and Trump National Doral

Donald Trump and Trump National Doral

The Doral City Council Tuesday night rejected a resolution to ask the Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser to inspect and assess the Trump National Doral Resort and Spa in Doral and ensure its appraisal for property tax purposes is proper.

Councilwoman Sandra Ruiz made a motion to vote on the resolution, but no other council member seconded the motion, effectively killing it.

“No second, the motion dies,” Doral Mayor Luigi Boria said, ending a short public hearing on the matter Tuesday evening.

“Property taxes must be determined by technical criteria … and not subject to petty politics,” Ed Russo, a representative of Donald Trump and The Trump Organization, told the city council.

Russo said he isn’t part of Donald Trump’s campaign as the Republican nominee for president, but he suggested that support of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton may have motivated the proposed resolution to request a new county appraisal of Trump National Doral.

“We are not part of the Trump campaign organization. We are here regarding our responsibilities to Trump Doral,” Russo said during the city council hearing.

“We think it’s proper to request that any member of the city commission who intends to … vote on this issue have at least disclosed if they are officially part of any national presidential campaign, especially if you serve as a Florida delegate of the DNC [Democratic National Committee],” he said.

Trump bought the 800-acre Doral resort property four years ago, and his lawyers have challenged the assessments for tax purposes every year since then.

The market value of Trump National Doral is about $96 million, and its assessed value is about $72 million, according to the Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser.

David Feder, vice president and managing director of the Trump National Doral Resort and Spa, told the city council that Trump saved the Doral resort, which has about 1,100 employees and an annual payroll of $25 million

“Up until the ‘90s, it was a strong competitor in the marketplace,” he said. “Then sometime in the mid ‘90s it declined, and if it had continued to go in that direction, it would have turned into mothballs.

Trump bought the Doral resort in 2012 for $150 million and spent another $250 million to renovate it.

“It has turned out to be one of the finest new resorts in the country,” Feder said. “Without the Trump family, I really doubt it would be that way today.”

The Washington Post reported that, in his May filing with the Federal Election Commission, Trump claimed higher values on eight of his 10 golf courses while his attorneys petitioned for lower values and reduced property tax bills.

For example, the Republican presidential nominee valued Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter at more than $50 million when months earlier, his attorney argued it was worth “no more than $5 million.” Trump’s FEC filing also claimed that Trump National Doral is worth “at least $50 million.”