Blog

  PBA uses this blog to post individual articles from our monthly newsletters. Members can comment on these articles.
  • 06/23/2015 11:56 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On Monday, June 22, 2015, the Santa Rosa Island Authority (SRIA) Board adopted its budget for fiscal 2016.  The budget reflects the transfer of the Public Works (maintenance) and Public Safety (lifeguards) to Escambia County effective October 1, 2015. This will reduce the SRIA’s operating budget by about 50%.  The SRIA Board directed a corresponding 50% reduction in residential and commercial lease fees.

    The SRIA budget is subject to review and approval by the Escambia County Board of Commissioners.  The County Administrator, Jack Brown, was at the SRIA meeting, and he indicated that the budget was in line with County expectations, although the County Board may require some undefined “tweaks” in the budget.

    This lease fee reduction is the direct result of coordinated work by the PBA, the Pensacola Beach Chamber of Commerce and representatives from the major Beach hotels.

    Some implementation issues, such as how to get master leaseholders to pass on the lease fee reduction to its sub-lessees, need to be worked out. Also, we need to make sure the County lives up to its promise of maintaining the current level of service for the maintenance and lifeguard services.

    PBA will continue to work on obtaining additional lease fee reductions, with the ultimate goal of eliminating lease fees altogether.  We will also continue to work on getting fee-simple title for all Beach leaseholders. 


  • 06/15/2015 8:39 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Meet Mia the Mermaid or take the Sea Turtle Oath at the Sea Turtle Baby Shower, Saturday, August 15 from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Pensacola Beach’s Park West. It’s a celebration of our sea turtles. Learn about the mama turtle who returns to her birth place, Pensacola Beach, to lay her nest and the tiny hatchlings who emerge and head for the Gulf of Mexico. Make your own sea turtle ornament and touch a real turtle shell. There will be contests, games, performances, educational kiosks, give-aways, art vendors and a prize basket drawing. The event will take place at Park West, which is located at the end of Fort Pickens Road just prior to the National Park entrance. 

    If all the fun makes you thirsty, stop by the water booth to purchase a Turtles Dig the Dark souvenir, reusable cup filled with ice cold water. Proceeds benefit the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Marine Conservation Center.

    The event is sponsored by the Pensacola Beach Advocates, Holiday Inn Express, Margaritaville Beach Hotel and Emerald Coast Utilities Authority.

    For more details, go to www.pbadvocates.org or call 850-916-6971.


  • 06/04/2015 11:59 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On May 28, 2015, the Florida Circuit Court in Escambia County granted summary judgment to the tax authorities in a case challenging the taxation of 12 acres of undeveloped land adjacent to Portofino condominiums. Island Resort Investments, Inc., v. Jones et al., No. 2011-ca-002367 (Fla. 1st Cir. Escambia Cnty.).  

    The ruling states that leasees have an “equitable ownership” in the leased land--and not just the improvements--and therefore the land is subject to ad-valorem taxes. This is similar to the Florida Supreme Court rulings last year on the taxability of leasehold improvements on Pensacola Beach (1108 Ariola) and leasehold land and improvements on Navarre Beach (Accardo).

    The Escambia Courts have not yet ruled on two additional cases challenging the taxation of the leased land of the Portofino and Beach Club condominiums.  Once these rulings are issued, assuming the conclusions are the same, Pensacola Beach Advocates will press the County to eliminate lease fees altogether.

    In the meantime, PBA is continuing to work with the SRIA and Escambia County Board of Commissioners to effect a substantial lease fee reduction effective October 1, 2015.

  • 05/28/2015 12:01 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Last night, our PBA, together with the PB Chamber, representatives from the PB hotels, and other concerned citizens pressed the Santa Rosa Island Authority (SRIA) last night to reduce its budget.  As a result, the SRIA Board asked its staff to reduce the 2016 budget and transfer about $4.6 million in costs to Escambia County.

    Cost transfers would include the cost of maintenance and lifeguards, as well as road maintenance and other costs normally borne by Escambia County in all other areas of the County.

    The effect would be to reduce the SRIA 2016 budget by about 50%, with a similar 50% reduction in lease fees for all residential and commercial lease fees.

    This is great news and welcome relief.  Special thanks to Jim Cox and Terry Preston, PBA Government Affairs Committee, for the hard work and dedication they invested over the last year into achieving the goal of reducing lease fees.  Thank you also for all those who turned out last night to show support.

    If Escambia County Commissioners accept the SRIA budget and assume those costs, the lease fee reductions would go into effect October 1, 2015. The Board of County Commissioners have promised to maintain the current level of services on Pensacola Beach.  We need to be sure they live up to that promise.

    PBA members are encouraged to attend the next SRIA Budget Workshop on June 10th and express their support for reduced SRIA budget and lease fees.


  • 04/24/2015 9:15 AM | Anonymous

    PBA would like to thank all beach residents and business owners, members and non-members alike, for such a great turnout last night at the public input session.  The following article from the PNJ is proof that a strong showing by island residents and businesses is important in order to get our message out regarding lease fee reductions, allocation of tax revenue, the future of the SRIA, and fee simple title:

    By Kimberly Blair, PNJ, 4/24/15:

    Keep the Santa Rosa Island Authority.

    Keep the same level of services on Pensacola Beach.

    Make Escambia County pay for those services with taxes collected from beach leaseholders.

    That was the consensus among 100 mostly Pensacola Beach folks who showed up at a public forum Thursday, hosted by the West Florida Regional Planning Council.

    The planning council has been contracted to analyze the organizational structure of the Island Authority and funding sources to figure out ways to continue to pay for beach services the public expects on the island to pave the way for a reduction or elimination of lease fees. Lease fees paid by residents and businesses fund the Island Authority's $9 million budget.

    Some people said they expected the meeting to be a full on debate and wax on for hours.

    But it ended in about 45 minutes and only 12 people stood up to speak, resoundingly in favor of keeping the SRIA in tact, and resolute that now that they are paying taxes, Escambia County should be footing the bill for lifeguards, maintenance and other necessary services for the beach to continue to be the county's major tourist draw.

    Peter Nemeth got a round of applause when he said the county should reinvest some of the (tax) money back into the beach. Use some of the the tax windfall to fund the SRIA.

    "And all residents should get a free pass on the toll bridge," he said.

    Charles Parris said lease fees have to go.

    "This is double taxation. It's incumbent on them (the county) to provide us essential services," he said. "No one loves Bands on the Beach more than I do. Obviously, the Blue Angels are part of our DNA. The county needs to come up with that money, not from the lease fees."

    Nan Harper said one of the reasons Pensacola Beach is Northwest Florida's jewel is because of how well it's maintained. Workers are on the beach before dawn and don't stop cleaning it up until well after dark, she pointed out.

    "We just won a major award because of the care and maintenance of the Island Authority," she said. "If we reduce that level of maintenance, of course our tourism success is going to diminish."

    The public meeting was part of the final phase of the planning council's analysis it will present to the SRIA board in the near future, said Regional Planner Vikki Garrett, who moderated the forum.

    She said the next step is to summarize Thursday's comments and present them to the SRIA board.

    The board will use the findings to make recommendations to Escmabia County commissioners who are looking into what services on the beach the county can take over with tax dollars.

    "The SRIA board wants to feel confident they are doing something that is supported by the community," Garrett said. "They are having to make tough decisions."

    The next step in the process, she said, is presenting the SRIA board the planning council's analysis of the Island Authority operational structure during a workshop Friday.

    Want to go?

    WHAT: Santa Rosa Island Authority Comprehensive Analysis workshop, hosted by West Florida Regional Planning Council.

    WHEN: 1-3 p.m. Aug. 24.

    WHERE: SRIA building, 1 Via de Luna, Pensacola Beach.

    WHO: Open to the public but there will be no public comment period.

    DETAILS: (850) 932-2257.


  • 04/16/2015 9:26 PM | Anonymous

    By Kimberly Blair, PNJ, April 16, 2015:

    If you love Pensacola Beach events like Bands on the Beach or the Blue Angels Air show, your opinion is needed.

    Or if you could care less about how clean the beach and its public bathrooms are kept, mark your calendars.

    West Florida Regional Planning Council has been contracted to study its organizational structure of the Island Authority and funding sources to figure out ways to continue to pay for beach services the public expects on the island, if lease fees are reduced.

    As part of that process, the Council is hosting a public forum at 5:30 p.m. April 23 at the Pensacola Beach Community Church, 920 Panferio Drive, Pensacola Beach.

    Island Authority board member Janice Gilley, who advocated for public input during this process, said the forum will provide the platform for residents, beach business owners and employees and people who visit the beach to have their opinions heard about this issue.

    "The most important thing is; this is the island's government body," she said. "If you would like to maintain the current structure, it's important to let the (Island Authority) board and county know this. If you would like to see major changes in the current government structure, you need to have your voices heard.”

    Whatever decisions are made, there will likely be financial implications to beach residents and the public — such as reduced lease fees and possible adoption of other fees the public may have to pay to make up for the loss of lease fees, which funds the $8.9 million Island Authority budget.

    This will be the first time the public has had this opportunity to voice their opinions about their vision for the future of the beach outside of Island Authority or county board meetings.

    Since the SRIA was created by the Florida legislature in 1947, it has been fully funded from lease fees collected from businesses and residences on the beach.

    The mission of the SRIA is "to promote tourism, manage growth and provide entertainment in a safe, clean, eco-friendly environment."

    From public works and public safety, to environmental and development services and events, Island Authority services include: Blue Angels Beach Show and Bands on the Beach; funding of the Pensacola Beach Visitors Information Center and Chamber of Commerce; road and right-of-way maintenance; wayfinding and public information signage; drainage; parking lots; lighting; facility maintenance; beach access; coordination with law enforcement, fire/rescue/EMS and other public safety agencies; management of lease payments and customer service; and review of construction, development and redevelopment to ensure they are consistent with applicable local, state and federal regulations.

    For more information, contact WFRPC Regional Planner Vikki Garrett at vikki.garrett@wfrpc.org or call (850) 332-7976, ext. 211.

    View details about what the Island Authority operates at http://sria-fla.com/viewpoint.php.

  • 04/09/2015 12:03 PM | Anonymous
    With lease fees on the chopping block and taxes here to stay, what does the future hold for the SRIA?  A Public Input Session will be held on Thursday, April 23, 2015 at 5:30 p.m. at the Pensacola Beach Community Church.  The West Florida Regional Planning Council (WFRPC), who has been hired by the SRIA to help them plan for the upcoming transitions, will host the session.  They are seeking input from the general public regarding the future organizational structure and funding sources of the Santa Rosa Island Authority.  See the attached Notice for additional details.

    PBA urges all of its members to attend.  Not only will it provide our members with the opportunity to become better informed about the future of our community, but it also provides us all with the chance to make our voices heard.  

    We look forward to seeing everyone there.

  • 04/07/2015 7:33 AM | Anonymous
    By Kimberly Blair

    Emerald Coast Blues Brothers kicks off one of the most popular musical events on Pensacola Beach at 7 p.m. on Tuesday — the 30-week Bands on the Beach concert series.

    The weekly concerts are free and open to the public.

    In an era when we mostly communicate with friends and loved ones through social media or smartphones, the concerts offer a unique opportunity to bring friends, families and couples together. They set up their lawn chairs, blankets and picnic baskets. Heck, some folks go all out with tables and candles and full meals while enjoying the music and sense of community for two hours.

    Hands down, the venue at the Gulfside Pavilion on Casino Beach, against the backdrop of the Gulf of Mexico, is unparalleled. Band concerts typically attract 2,000 to 4,000 people who turn out to see some of the most popular local and regional bands.

    Clearly, our community loves free outdoor concerts.

    So, if you're a Bands on the Beach fan, you may want to make sure you get to as many of the weekly concerts as possible this year.

    Santa Rosa Island Authority budgets $60,000 to sponsor the series, which pays for acts, sound, lights and other costs. In an effort to give beach residents relief from paying both Island Authority lease fees on top of county taxes, county officials are pouring over the Island Authority budget to see what services it will take over paying for with the taxes from the beach.

    The idea is to whittle down the budget so lease fees can be reduced. It's possible in the future, if beach leaseholders are able to get titles to their land, lease fees will be eliminated.

    When the lease fees go so too goes the budget for many things like Bands on the Beach.

    Some of those sitting in on the meetings say Bands may have to get corporate sponsors to continue in the future, just like the other free concert series in the area.

    For instance, Bands on the Blackwater in Milton is sponsored by Santa Rosa Medical Center and other companies. Hill-Kelly Dodge is among a number of sponsors who pay the tab on Evenings in Olde Seville Square. Blues Angel Music sponsors Blues on the Bay in the Community Maritime Park Amphitheater. Even Navarre's Summer Concert Series depends on sponsors.

    None of these other series provide as extensive of a lineup, spanning 30 weeks, as Bands on the Beach, though.

    The Island Authority puts it on not just for locals but to also provide a "family-friendly" activity on the beach. That's something sorely needed. After a day in the sun and surf, there's not many attractions for families with children, or visitors who don't want to hit the bar scene, to do on the beach in the evening.

    W. A. "Buck" Lee, Island Authority executive director, firmly believes this is why county officials will continue to support the series on their largest tourist attraction.

    I hope he's right.

    Because as line items in the budget are scrutinized — including critical items such as lifeguards and beach maintenance — and the future of the Island Authority is analyzed, Bands on the Beach may end up in the column with no government funding.

    We can only hope that beach hotels whose guests go to the concerts and the bars and restaurants that benefit from concertgoers' business, and even the liquor distributors, will step up and sponsor the series.

    In the meantime, get out your dancing shoes and get ready for a great lineup of "Good Vibrations" on the white sands of Pensacola Beach.

    Did I mention you get a sunset with the package?

    For more details, visit http://www.visitpensacolabeach.com/events/bands-on-the-beach.php.

  • 03/31/2015 5:13 PM | Anonymous

    The following article can be found in the latest edition of the Island Times.  PBA encourages all members to reach out to your Congressmen and Senators -- if you want fee simple title you need to let them know!

    Island Times -- Congressman Jeff Miller introduced a bill March 18 in the House of Representatives that would give Escambia County the ability to offer Fee Simple title to beach leaseholders. The bill, which is H. R. 1452, is similar to the bill that passed the House in February 2014, except this bill has gained Senator Marco Rubio’s support.

    “Santa Rosa Island residents should have title to properties they are already taxed on, and this bill intends to remove obstacles the government has put up in the way of this,” Rubio said. “With the input of offi cials in the region and impacted members of the community, we’ve developed this solution to provide people with options to the land so they can move on with their lives.”

    Last year’s bill passed the house and languished in the Committee. H.R. 1452 has been referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources which will consider it before sending it to the House fl oor for consideration.

    The Senate’s version, S 770, was introduced by Senator Rubio on March 18. This bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources which will consider it before sending it to the Senate fl oor for consideration.

    After the court battles contesting the taxation of leasehold property and improvements made their way through the legal system, leaseholders were faced with the burden of paying both taxes and lease fees. The conveyance of Fee Simple title would in essence make leases void.

    When Santa Rosa Island was originally deeded to Escambia County, the County could only lease the land, not sell it. The restriction on use and conveyance would be lifted if this bill passes the Legislature.

    “This is a fairness issue,” said Miller. “This legislation will help to ensure that leaseholders currently paying taxes and living and working on Santa Rosa Island have the choice to attain title to their land, while also upholding current conservation agreements and public access to the island’s beaches.”

    Included in the bill: Escambia County would have the ability to offer Fee Simple title to leaseholders but would not be able to charge more than it costs to administer the transfer. Leaseholders would not be compelled to take title.

    Escambia County will have to convey Navarre Beach to Santa Rosa County.

    Escambia County and Santa Rosa County shall in perpetuity preserve those areas on Santa Rosa Island currently dedicated to conservation, preservation, public, recreation, access and public parking in accordance with resolutions heretofore adopted by the Board of County Commissioners of each respective county.

    Pensacola Beach Advocates Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Terry Preston asked fellow islanders and interested parties to contact elected offi cials to voice their support of the proposed legislation.

    Contact Senator Marco Rubio: http://www.rubio.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact 202-225-4136

    Contact Senator Bill Nelson: http://www.billnelson.senate.gov/contact-bill 202-224-5274

    Contact Congressman Jeff Miller: https://jeffmiller.house.gov/contact/contactform.htm 202-225-4136

    Readers can track the progress of H.R. 1452 online at https://www.govtrack.us
  • 02/23/2015 7:18 AM | Anonymous


    Reducing Pensacola Beach lease fees is no easy fix

    Freddie Falgout in some ways is one of the lucky Pensacola Beach leaseholders.

    http://on.pnj.com/1Ah6eyC
     
    Kimberly Blair, pnj.com 2:18 p.m. CST February 22, 2015


    Santa Rosa Island lease fees

    Freddie Falgout owns a home, a rental home and recently sold this vacant lot on Pensacola Beach. He and other home owners don't think it's fair to pay taxes on property they don't actually own, especially on top of their annual lease fees.(Photo: Ben Twingley/btwingley@pnj.com)

    Freddie Falgout in some ways is one of the lucky Pensacola Beach leaseholders.

    He only pays $150 and $165, respectively, in annual lease fees on each one of his two Via de Luna lots on which he has his primary residence and a rental property.

    So paying the fees on top of the taxes he's now required to pay Escambia County for his properties in paradise is not that hard on his budget, he said.

    A lot he's selling off is another story.

    "The lease fee on the lot is almost equal to the $1,250 in taxes I pay on it," Falgout said. "I didn't know that when I bought the lot. It was a surprise since I was paying $165 in lease fees on a lot with a house. So, I decided I'm not building a house on the lot. I'm selling it."

    Many beach leaseholders are facing similar hard financial decisions now that the Florida Supreme Court upheld the right for Escambia County Property Appraiser Chris Jones to assess taxes on Pensacola Beach land and improvements on the land on top of paying the original lease fees for which they signed on.

    Since that court ruling last year, residents and business owners, most of whom are facing paying thousands of dollars more annually since they began paying taxes on dwellings in 2004 and land in 2011, have been demanding Escambia County commissioners roll back or eliminate their lease fees, similar to what Santa Rosa County has done for Navarre Beach residents, and put an end to what they call "double taxation."

    Last week, Santa Rosa Island Authority, a beach resident, a commercial representative and Escambia County officials sat down to begin looking into immediate ways to address rolling back lease fees — $3.2 million collected on residential property annually and $4.7 million collected on a percentage of revenues commercial properties generate.

    The game plan is for the county to take over payment of basic services it provides every other county resident with the roughly $7 million in its share of taxes collected on the beach (the school board gets about the same amount), which the Island Authority provides with lease fees, such as repairing pot holes and cleaning and maintaining public park.

    The challenge is figuring out a way for the county to do this and still maintain "the cleanliness on the beach and all the different activities we provide beach and county residents and tourists," said Tammy Bohannon, Island Authority board chairwoman.

    Terry Preston, who serves on the Pensacola Beach Advocates governmental affairs committee, is representing residents at the lease fee meetings.

    "The immediate goal is moving whatever we can out of the budget this fiscal year so they (SRIA) can reduce lease fees immediately, in my opinion," she said. "Can they eliminate fees? Maybe not."

    What it pays for

    For instance, the Island Authority's $8 million annual budget, based solely on lease fees, provides everything from lifeguards, ambulance service and fire protection to cleaning streets, beaches and public restrooms, beach renourishment, salaries for 45 full-time staffers and 60 seasonal staffers, along with hosting some of the biggest events in the area.

    W.A. "Buck" Lee, Island Authority executive director, said there's only about three and a half hours a day when a maintenance employee tasked with picking up trash on beaches and maintaining public areas and cleaning restrooms is not on duty. That's how much work there is to do to keep the beaches ready for visitors, he said.

    Whether the county will pick up the tab on this same level of service the Island Authority provides will likely be a topic for debate, Lee said.

    Many visitors have come to expect a clean and safe beach. They are responsible for naming Pensacola Beach one of the top five U.S. beaches for a 2015 TripAdvisor poll last week, Lee said.

    Beyond the basics, figuring out how to pay for other services and events the Island Authority funds without lease fees gets complicated.

    What's at stake

    Who, for instance, would pick up the $150,000 tab the Island Authority pays for the annual Blue Angels Beach air show and the $45,000 it earmarks for the popular Bands on the Beach concert series from April 7 to Oct. 27, Lee asked.

    Melanie Waite, with the Pensacola Beach Krewe of Wrecks, is worried that if lease fees go away, the Island Authority will no longer be able to support the hugely popular Mardi Gras parade on the beach.

    "We are really worried about the changes in the Island Authority," she said. "If not for the $23,000 they contribute for the (crowd) barriers, we could not control our expenses for the parade."

    And it could mean the end of the parade.

    Lee's also concerned about where sponsorship money the Island Authority provides will come from for events that attract visitors, such as the Songwriters Festival, Art and Wine Fest and Santa Rosa Island Triathlon.

    "All of this on the table," he said. "Nothing is written in stone and there are no recommendations yet."

    Ron Ellington works for Innsfree Hotels and represents Portofino Resort Developer Robert Rinke, Innifree Hotels founder Julian MacQueen who owns Holiday Inn Resort, Hampton Inn and Hilton Gulf Front, and Marilyn Hess, who owns Margaritaville Beach Hotel, Holiday Inn Express and SpringHill Suites at the lease fee meetings.

    These hotels pay the Island Authority a 2 percent to 5 percent fee on revenue from sales of things such as retail items, drinks, food and lodging. Hilton alone paid $504,000 on its sales in 2014.

    Ellington said they are looking to roll that back now that the hotels are paying hefty taxes.

    The people he represents understand their visitors expect a high level of service.

    This is the county's most-used park, and 70 percent of the people who come out here are local, he said.

    "It's a huge economic engine ... generating $280 million in economic impact every year," he said

    Ellington said residents in other parts of the county should be invested in what happens to the beach because they benefit from beach visitors.

    "Overnight beach guests generate 35 percent of the (local option sales tax) revenue," he said. "So they are contributing to infrastructure of the county."

    They pump 50 cents on the dollar into the economy on food, libations, museum visits and other attractions, he said.

    Hard decisions

    To be sure, Preston, who is looking for relief from her own $600 annual lease fee bill, said there will be hard decisions to make down the road as the Island Authority and Escambia County look for ways to pay for services not provided to the rest of the county.

    "We'll have to decide, do we want them or do we pay for them with alternative funding?," she asked.

    While the county looks at what it can take off the Island Authority budget, the Island Authority board hired the West Florida Regional Planning Council to help it analyze its operations and identify other possible funding sources to replace lease fees.

    One idea that has been floated at Island Authority meetings is a resort tax that could fund special events and beach projects, Lee said.

    Even more complex is figuring how to eliminate lease fees all together, Escambia County attorney Alison Rogers said.

    "It gets complicated when you're dealing with a situation like a condominium," Rogers said. "You may have a developer who has some interest. The association and unit owners may have some interest. Some things are purchased by holding corporations or trust. The list of possibilities is endless."

    Bohannon has been leading the charge on figuring out how to deal with the master leaseholder issue because she subleases property in Lafitte Cove from a master leaseholder.

    "As a resident and having lived out here 30 years, of course I'm not in favor of paying lease fees and taxes because we were told we'd never pay taxes," she said. "Unfortunately, that's not the case. And unfortunately, there are many master lease holders out here that derive revenue by paying one sum to the Island Authority and charging their leasee another fee. I'm not sure how this is going to be untangled."

    Bohannon, a realtor, is paying a $2,000 annual lease fee and $6,000 in taxes on her home. She's managed to afford it, but she knows many people who can't afford the burden of the double taxation.

    Fee simple

    Beach leaseholders and business owners have been hanging high hopes on obtaining fee-simple title to their land, which would absolve them of paying lease fees.

    The county has been pursuing that option through a bill U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Chumuckla, introduced in 2013. It passed the house and died in a Senate subcommittee.

    Dan McFaul, Miller's chief of staff, said the congressman plans to reintroduce the bill to the new Congress sometime this year.

    "It has to be updated and redrafted ... that's being done now," McFaul said. "We'll coordinate with the Senate to introduce it at the same time."

    Miller is seeking a senator to sponsor the bill.

    The bill, if passed, would also convey land that falls in the jurisdictional boundaries of Santa Rosa County, but is owned by Escambia County, back to Santa Rosa.

    This is all a moot point until all the litigation fighting taxation is settled. There's still lingering litigation opposing taxation of the land for Portofino Resort towers 1-5 and Beach Club Condominiums.

    Commissioner Grover Robinson III, whose district includes Pensacola Beach, is anxious for lawsuits to be settled one way or another because it keeps everyone in limbo.

    "That creates the uncertainty," he said. "Do we have taxes or not? I want a solution. That would be one way to move forward."

    Creating more complications

    While it's still a long way off, a fee-simple title, if passed, could create complex legal issues.

    "If and when we have to determine conveyance of deeds to property, that will be fairly complex," Rogers said.

    For instance, what will be the government process and legalities for buying or selling of beach property? Retaining a company to do title searchers can get bogged down in the bureaucratic process, she said.

    And what about those sublease holders who are paying taxes on their subleased property? There could be problems with them obtaining titles, Rodgers said. And there could be legal battles over the rights to the titles.

    In the meantime, Falgout hopes the double taxation issue won't spook his potential buyer.

    "He was concerned about double taxation," Falgout said.

    When Falgout explained the situation, "He said, 'I don't understand. So I have to pay taxes and leases?'"

    A question many residents of Pensacola Beach have been pondering lately.


    By the numbers

    • $3.2M: Amount of annual lease fees Pensacola Beach residential leaseholders pay the SRIA.
    • $4.7M: SRIA fee collected from businesses on rooms, food, drinks and souvenir sales.
    • 3,899: Residential leases.
    • 230: Vacant lots.
    • 176: Commercial entities.
    • 58: Master leases on such things as condominiums.
    • 91: Subleases.
    • $135: Lowest residential lease fee.
    • $1.06M: Highest lease fee on the five towers with 765 units of Portofino Resort.
    • $4,000: Highest single-family home lease fee.
    • $504,000: Highest commercial lease fees collected from Hilton Pensacola Beach Gulf Front.
    • $150,000: Amount SRIA pays to put on the Blue Angel beach air show.
    • $45,000: Amount SRIA pays for April through October Bands on the Beach weekly concert series.
    • $55,000: Amount SRIA gives the Pensacola Beach Chamber of Commerce for New Year's Eve and Fourth of July fireworks.
    • $96,000: Amount SRIA gives Pensacola Beach Chamber of Commerce to pay two chamber staffers, including the CEO/president.
    • $250,000: Amount SRIA paid to secure permits to restore sand on the Gulf side of Pensacola Beach.
    • $8.5M: Amount Island Authority is paying Escambia County for a loan to pay half of the beach renourishment slated to begin this year.
    • $200,000: SRIA gives to county's Pensacola Beach fire department.
    • $70,000: For EMS ambulance service.
    • $150,000: For Escambia sheriff's deputies for tourism season.
    • $2.8 million: Cleaning parking lots, beaches, restrooms and picking up trash from 4 a.m. to midnight each day.
    • $1.6M: Public safety, including lifeguard service.

    Source: SRIA

     

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