Blog

  PBA uses this blog to post individual articles from our monthly newsletters. Members can comment on these articles.
  • 07/29/2011 2:59 PM | Anonymous

    On July 18th, The First District Court of Appeal (DCA) affirmed the ruling of the lower court in the case of Ariola v. Jones, that involves some 2,400 residential parcels on Pensacola Beach.  The three judge panel agreed that Pensacola Beach leaseholders are equitable owners and are subject to ad valorem property taxes on their improvements.  This time the ruling included a 15 page opinion http://opinions.1dca.org/written/opinions2011/07-18-2011/10-2050.pdf

    Danny Kepner, the lead attorney in this case, will file motions with the First District Court of Appeal by the August 2nd deadline.  The motions will ask for a rehearing of the case and also request certification of this case to the Florida Supreme Court because of its public importance.  None of the cases involving taxation of leasehold improvements have made it to Florida’s highest court.  All the other Escambia County appeals on taxation of improvements were simply affirmed, without a written opinion.  The Florida Supreme Court will not consider cases that are simply affirmed.  We anticipate a response from the First District Court of Appeal sometime in August.  If they do not grant either motion, the plaintiffs in this case still have the right to petition the Supreme Court directly for consideration.

    Following the decision in Navarre Beach case known as Ward v. Brown, the Santa Rosa Property Appraiser taxed the land as well as the improvements.  This case made its way through the courts.  On April 21st the First District Court of Appeal affirmed that the Navarre Beach leaseholders are the equitable owners of both the real property (land) and improvements.  This appellate panel wrote a 9 page opinion http://opinions.1dca.org/written/opinions2011/04-21-2011/10-4072.pdf     They also certified this case to the Florida Supreme Court as is being petitioned in the Pensacola Beach case (Ariola v. Jones).  The Navarre Beach opinion ends with “Given the significance of the issues presented herein, we certify to the Florida Supreme Court the following as a question of great public importance:

    WHETHER SECTION 196.199(2)(b), FLORIDA STATUTES, IS INAPPLICABLE TO THE REAL PROPERTY AT ISSUE BECAUSE APPELLANTS ARE THE EQUITABLE OWNERS OF THAT PROPERTY?

    Having the First District Court of Appeal certify a case does not guarantee that the Supreme Court will consider the case.  The Supreme Court will be asked to hear the Navarre Beach case.  We will continue to follow this case as well since taxation of the land on Pensacola Beach will be included in 2011 tax bills that come out in the fall.

    For more information, visit the tax litigation website at http://pbeachtaxsuit.com/

  • 07/29/2011 2:59 PM | Anonymous

    The other Pensacola Beach property tax case that is still ongoing involves Portofino.  Unlike the other cases, the Portofino leaseholders also contested the amount of the tax assessed on the improvements.  When the battle over the legality of taxes on improvements was lost, the case returned to Judge Frank Bell in Escambia County to challenge the methodology used by the Property Appraiser, Chris Jones, to determine the value of the improvements.

    Judge Bell ruled in December, 2010 that the Property Appraiser had indeed over-assessed the value of Portofino improvements.  He also ruled that the land at Portofino is owned by the County and is not subject to ad-valorem taxes.  This was the first time any court – local or appellate – had ruled that the leased land was not taxable. Chris Jones has appealed this ruling to the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee.  Briefs are still being filed.  No date has been set for oral argument.

  • 07/29/2011 2:58 PM | Anonymous

    PBA launched a new website design this week thanks to the efforts of our secretary, Maria Weisnicht and her team at CED Technical Services. The website was built using the popular WordPress content management system. Site visitors can subscribe to our monthly newsletter, fill out a membership form, pay dues online and read and comment on blogs. We will post our newsletters on the site and we plan to use the blog to provide information on specific topics as news becomes available.

    We are also using Facebook as a way to connect with our stakeholders. Please take a second and become a fan of our Facebook page – just click here and press Like button. Feel free to post a comment on our wall or share the page with your friends.

    Anyone is free to subscribe to our newsletter, but we ask those of you who are stakeholders on the island – residents, leaseholders and business owners – to become a member by paying $30/year.

  • 07/29/2011 2:57 PM | Anonymous

    The Steering Committe for the Pensacola Beach Master Plan met on April 12th to kick off phase two of the planning process. Two of the thirteen Committee members are PBA members. 

    The County has engaged Baskerville Donovan to do an engineering review of the ideas that were generated by last spring’s Master Plan, and develop cost estimates, priorities, and likely funding sources. Their efforts will be coordinated with the Steering Committee and the SRIA. This should be done by September, 2011.There will be public forums this summer as the engineering plans evolve. The PBA will keep you informed so your voice can be heard in the planning process.
  • 07/29/2011 2:56 PM | Anonymous

    The PBA Board will meet Thursday, August 4th at 5:30 pm.  The meeting will be held in the 4th Floor Meeting Room at Emerald Dolphin Condo, 850 Ft. Pickens Road. All PBA members are welcome to attend the board meeting.

  • 07/24/2011 3:56 PM | Anonymous

    On Monday July 18, 2011 the First District Court of Appeal finally issued an opinion in the law suit involving taxation of some 2,400 residential leaseholds on Pensacola Beach (not including commercial or Portofino).  In keeping with other decisions, they ruled against the leaseholders.  This time the panel wrote a 15 page opinion versus just affirming the lower court ruling.  Here is a link to the opinion:

    http://opinions.1dca.org/written/opinions2011/07-18-2011/10-2050.pdf

    There is much to be sorted out about any option for appeal to the Florida Supreme Court.  We will plan on getting a PBA newsletter out next week.  An update with this link to the decision will be posted to www.pbeachtaxsuit.com as soon as possible.

  • 06/29/2011 12:52 PM | Anonymous

    Congressman Jeff Miller and County Commissioner Grover Robinson held a joint town hall meeting tonight on Pensacola Beach. Approximately 100 people gather to ask questions and voice concerns about fee simple title for Pensacola Beach and the ongoing impact of the BP Oil Spill.

  • 06/28/2011 4:20 PM | Anonymous
    Free beach trolley service started rolling on May 27th. Two trolleys run a continuous route from Palm Beach Club on the west end to Portofino on the east end with a loop through the Beach core. Trolleys run daily from 11 am to 11 pm. In mid August, service will continue 12 hours a day on weekends through Labor Day.

    Easy to remember, and even easier to use. Using the latest technology, you can plan when to board at any of the 27 stops. The trolleys are equipped with a GPS tracking system that provides an estimate of when the trolley will arrive. Information is accessible via the web, phone or text. You can even follow the 2 trolleys as they make there way around the Beach.

    • Call automated phone response line at 850-602-9384 and entering the trolley stop number.
    • Text 41411 to SRIA and entering the trolley stop number.
    • Scan the QR code posted at each trolley stop with a smartphone.
    • Visit the “Trolley Tracker” at visitpensacolabeach.com.

    Come on and Take a Free Ride! Have you ever heard any good trolley tales from the good old days when everyone rode the trolley? We invite you to make some new trolley tales and share them with us.

  • 05/15/2011 6:29 PM | Anonymous

    The Steering Committe for the Pensacola Beach Master Plan met on April 12th to kick off phase two of the planning process. Two of the thirteen Committee members are PBA members. 

    The County has engaged Baskerville Donovan to do an engineering review of the ideas that were generated by last spring’s Master Plan, and develop cost estimates, priorities, and likely funding sources. Their efforts will be coordinated with the Steering Committee and the SRIA. This should be done by September, 2011.There will be public forums this summer as the engineering plans evolve. The PBA will keep you informed so your voice can be heard in the planning process.
  • 05/15/2011 6:25 PM | Anonymous
    In our March Newsletter we provided an update about the Pensacola Beach tax lawsuits. Basically, two of the Pensacola Beach law suits first filed in 2004 when property taxes were assessed on leasehold improvements are still active in the Florida court system. Oral arguments in our appeal were heard by the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee on February 15th.  The Court has yet to issue an opinion.

    Last week, the First District Court of Appeal issued an opinion in the Navarre Beach case known as Accardo v. Brown (Case No.1D10-4072).  The Court agreed with the trial court that the Navarre Beach leaseholders are the equitable owners of both the real property (land) and improvements and are subject to ad valorem taxes as such.  This is not good news for the Pensacola Beach plaintiffs who can expect to be taxed on the land in addition to the improvements in 2011. 

    Many of the plaintiffs in the Pensacola Beach case who are not paying taxes received a DELINQUENT NOTICE from the Tax Collector, Janet Holley, in the mail last week.  The Court has issued a stay order preventing Ms. Holley from collecting the ad valorem taxes assessed by the Property Appraiser until the Court has taken final action in this case. 

    Plaintiffs in this case are not required to pay the taxes until all Court action is final.  A tax certificate cannot be issued.  The law does allow for 12 percent simple interest per year to be assessed on back taxes if the court determines the tax to be legal.  The interest rate has been included in the amounts shown on the Delinquent Notice. Some plaintiffs have chosen to pay back taxes because the accrued interest is getting high – but are not required to until the case is settled.

    Anyone who chooses to pay the taxes to avoid further accumulation of interest can do so without jeopardizing their standing in this case.  There is a provision in Florida law for a refund in the event the Court rules in our favor.  

    We will continue to keep you updated. You can also visit the official website for the Pensacola Beach Taxation Lawsuit at www.pbeachtaxsuit.com.

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