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ORLANDO-Orange County property appraiser Bill Donegan won’t be receiving a holiday greetings card this year from Hilton Hotels Corp. or Hyatt Hotels Corp. The two hotel chains lost a bid this week to lower about $1.4 million in total property taxes on two undeveloped parcels near the Orange County Convention Center.

Instead of paying $41,000 annually on a 26-acre undeveloped tract where it is growing pine trees, Hyatt will be charged $1 million, according to Donegan’s office. Hilton will pay $432,000 instead of $216 per year as it was originally assessed under an agriculture zoning category.

The rulings on the readjusted taxes were handed down this week by a master on the county’s Value Adjustment Board which includes three county commissioners and two school board members. The hotels plan to appeal the ruling to the full board in January, lawyers for the hotels tell GlobeSt.com. If they are turned down by the board, the hotels have the option of suing the county in state Circuit Court.

Donegan’s next opponent is Vivendi Universal. Donegan wants to hike Universal’s annual tax bill on undeveloped land near the International Drive tourist corridor to $1.8 million from $390,000.

Donegan, a retail management specialist for 26 years and an elected Central Florida government officials for 16 years, has decided to end the agriculture-zoning game by denying 14 owners lower tax bills. If he is victorious in all of the battles, Donegan will have added about $4.5 million in additional revenue to the county’s coffers, his office tells GlobeSt.com.

“We’re talking big bucks here that taxpayers should be benefiting from,” a property appraiser office source tells GlobeSt.com. “Donegan has no fear in taking on the big guys.”

Besides the Hilton and Hyatt victories, Donegan also won a battle last month against Harris Rosen, owner of RH Resorts, the largest privately owned hotel chain in Florida. Rosen’s 230 undeveloped acres in the tourist corridor will be taxed at $467,000 annually instead of $26,812.

Donegan’s victories against name international corporations were triggered by a Value Adjustment Board decision last year to grant Hilton, Hyatt, Rosen, Universal and Sierra Florida Properties a total of $4.4 million worth of farmland tax exemptions, his office tells GlobeSt.com. The board’s membership composition changes every year.

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