On October 4th, there was a joint meeting of the SRIA and the Board of County Commissioners to discuss the double taxation issue on Pensacola Beach. The commissioners agreed they need to “make leaseholders whole” on the double taxation issue, but left many questions unanswered.
They proposed escrowing the ad-valorem taxes on the leased land (about $3.3 million per year) until the tax litigation is decided. If the courts rule the land is NOT taxable, then the taxes would be refunded and the lease fees and SRIA would likely stay in place as they are now. If the courts rule the land IS taxable, then the escrowed monies would be given to the SRIA to refund lease fees. But the amount of the escrowed taxes is not enough to reimburse both the residential and commercial lease fees, and who gets refunded and how much they get refunded is unknown.
There was also some concern about the timing of dispursements from the County to the SRIA. The County collects taxes in arrears (your payments starting in November are for the year 2011) while the SRIA collects lease fees in advance. Also the county is dependent on Janet Holley (Tax Collector) deciding if and when she is going to release those tax dollars to the county or hold them in escrow.
Commissioners and our Congressman Jeff Miller continue to work on getting legislation approved for giving leaseholders fee simple title to their property. They do not have a Senate sponsor for the bill and are working with Senator Rubio to get his support. See related articles on Fee Simple Title.
Commissioner Grover Robinson and County Attorney Alison Rogers will be at the PBA Annual Meeting next Monday, October 10th at 5:30 at the Beach Community Church to discuss this issue and answer leaseholders questions. Please plan to attend and bring a neighbor.
SRIA Board Chairman started out the meeting with a brief presentation summarizing the history of the island and its ownership and the current budget for Pensacola Beach. A few facts:
- Pensacola Beach is 1474 acres
- 60% of the land mass is in parks and public lands
- Population is 2738
- There are 3811 residential leases and 139 commercial leases
- SRIA brings in $6 million in revenue between residential lease fees ($2.5 M) and commercial lease fees ($3.5M).
- The annual SRIA budget is – $6 million.
- In addition to lease fees, Pensacola Beach currently generates close to $2 million in bed tax revenues for the county, $3 million in toll collections and is expected to collect $3million in taxes on land in addition to $5million on improvements. A total of $17 million in benefits to the county (excluding $ paid for schools and sheriff).
- The SRIA provides a variety of services that benefit residents and visitors – beach cleanup, security, special events, hurricane preparedness and recovery, road and landscaping maintenance, public safety, building permits and oversight.