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Scott out-voted on land purchase for miliary

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi nd Gov. Rick Scott at a recent cabinet meeting.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Cabinet agreed, over the objection of Gov. Rick Scott, to spend $13.89 million on Tuesday to buy land in Orlando to reduce the risk that Florida is hit by future rounds of military base closings.

For Scott, his objection was over the sales price rather than intent of the acquisition.

"I think it's a good idea to do this, but in light of the acquisition price I'm going to vote against it," Scott said during a Cabinet meeting at Florida Atlantic University in Jupiter.

Scott and the Cabinet -- Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Attorney General Pam Bondi -- were asked to complete two purchases that add 9.58 acres to the Central Florida Research Park, which sits next the University of Central Florida campus and hosts a number of U.S. Department of Defense tenants known as Team Orlando.

The sales price is 1 percent below the higher of two appraisals made on the land in July.

Scott has previously opposed land buying when the sales price wasn't at or below 90 percent of the lowest appraised value.

The Orange County land deal is expected to reduce the cost that the military spends in renting space while participating with the University of Central Florida in the research park, said retired Lt. Gen. Thomas Baptiste, president of the National Center for Simulation.

The need to move the military into government-rate leases has been listed as a top priority by the Florida Defense Support Task Force.

The center, located in the research park and next to the Naval Support Activity Orlando, participates with the university in research involving simulation training.

While the naval facility is self-contained, the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force and other federal organizations spill out into 200,000 feet of commercial space in Orlando and collectively pay about $5.4 million a year in rent.

"In this current budget environment that's a terrible place to be," Baptiste said.

Baptiste said the cost for the rental space puts those offices at risk of downsizing in the next round of the federal process known as "Base Realignment and Closure," which could occur in 2017.

Scott and the Cabinet used the threat of future base closings when agreeing to spend $630,000 on Oct. 28 to obtain the development rights for several acres west of Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville.

The Orlando agreements are with Leidos Realty, for the acquisition of the 9.58-acre parcel, and Cowperwood Orlando, covering the acquisition of the leasehold interest.