Blog

  PBA uses this blog to post individual articles from our monthly newsletters. Members can comment on these articles.
  • 02/21/2012 6:05 PM | Anonymous

    The Santa Rosa Island Authority recently approved one of two plans presented by Baskerville Donovan for a Master Plan for Pensacola Beach. The plan is now getting lots of attention from the community and the local media – both positive and negative. Here is a quick recap of how we got to our current situation.  Please visit our Master Plan web page for past articles and relevant links.

    Over the past 15 years there have been numerous plans proposed to improve Pensacola Beach (especially the Core Area), but none of them gained widespread support.  There was a sense that change was needed, but what to change?

    The current Master Plan project was initiated over two years ago by the SRIA, and was initially spearheaded by a Steering Committee of 13 citizens representing a cross section of Pensacola Beach stakeholders – residents, business owners, and mainland citizens.  The goals were:

    1. Address the parking issue on the island – on certain days of the year the available parking is overwhelmed. Upon further study, it was determined that although there are about 15 days a year where parking is inadequate, no amount of additional parking or parking garages could fill the needs on those days.  On many other days the issue is more one of a misallocation of parking – more parking is needed near the Quietwater beaches and facilities and less by the Casino Beach beaches and facilities.
    2. Improve the flow of traffic on the island – both vehicular traffic and pedestrian traffic.  Improve the flow of traffic into the Casino parking lot.  Improve public safety.  Improve the signalized intersection, which currently is rated “D” by the FL Department of Transportation.
    3. Create a new and improved overall image of Pensacola Beach to help it fulfill its role as “Escambia County’s Playground” and a tourist destination that differentiates itself from competing Gulf Coast tourist destinations.

    The EDSA Master Plan

    In the spring of 2010, the Steering Committee and the SRIA approved a conceptual plan presented by EDSA, a community planning organization, that envisioned a number of improvements to the Beach, including a redesign of the Core Area to include two elevated roadways to separate vehicle traffic from pedestrian traffic, three traffic circles, and a pedestrian walkway connecting the Quietwater and Gulf sides of the Core Area. The cost of the Core Area  improvements was estimated to be $25 million, which made up a significant portion of the overall EDSA Master Plan cost of $47 million.

    Escambia County Engineering Review

    In the Spring of 2011, Escambia County engaged Baskerville Donovan (BDI) to review the engineering feasibility of the EDSA Master Plan.  BDI concluded that the elements of the EDSA Master Plan outside of the Core Area were buildable, but that several problems existed with the Core Area recommendations:

    • The traffic circles were determined to be unworkable. It requires a lot of space to have a two lane traffic circle, and the angle of entry for the roads on Pensacola Beach would not permit safe entry and exit from the circles. Additionally, many drivers are unfamiliar with traffic circles, and they could prove confusing for locals as well as tourists.
    • The EDSA plan provided good pedestrian access from the Gulf side to the Quietwater side of the Core Area, but provided poorer access between those two sides and the Little Sabine (west) side of the Core Area.
    • There was simply too little space in the Core Area to accommodate three traffic circles and two elevated roadways – the project was “unbuildable”.

    Combined BDI/EDSA concepts for the Core Area

    In January 2012 BDI and EDSA combined efforts to resolve these issues and come up with two new concepts for the Core Area – one with a pedestrian overpass, and one with an elevated road and a pedestrian underpass.  These were presented to the SRIA on January 14th, and on February 8th, the SRIA approved “Plan B” with elevated roadways and
    a pedestrian underpass as well as significant other improvements to the core Area in terms of enhanced parking, a new park/event area and more landscaping.  The total estimated cost of these improvements is $25 million, or the same as the original 2010 estimate.

    Plan B accomplishes the original goals of the planning process, and addresses all the problems with the original EDSA plan.

    • Plan B effectively separates vehicular and pedestrian traffic, and creates a much safer Core Area.
    • Plan B provides greatly enhanced pedestrian access to all three sides of the Core Area – it truly makes Pensacola
      Beach the only resort community with a true “Beach to Bay” experience.
    • Plan B provides a roadway leading directly into the main Casino parking lot.
    • Plan B connects the Quietwater and Casino parking lots – providing vehicular access between the lots without going onto the roads.
    • Plan B eliminates the traffic circles.
    • Plan B is “Buildable”.
    • Plan B creates a new and defining image for Pensacola Beach – distinguishing it from all the competing resort communities on the Gulf Coast.

    The one thing that Plan B does not do is increase the amount of parking in the Core Area – in fact it is projected to lose about 300 – or 15% – of the current spaces.  BDI said all along that it would be impossible to accomplish the other goals without losing some parking.  We can only hope that as we go through the design process that some of those spaces can be saved.

    Lastly, there is concerned expressed about the cost of the project – $25 million. That is a lot of money.  But it is consistent with the cost of the original plan approved 2 years ago.  And only $17 million of it is for the roadways – the other $8 million is for landscaping, hardscaping and contingencies.  Again, through the design process, we hope to find savings.

    Next Steps and Opportunity for Input

    What’s next?  The leaseholders and stakeholders on Pensacola Beach will have two opportunities for input on the Plan.

    Escambia County will host two public information meetings in early March for the Pensacola Beach Master Plan alternatives.  The meetings will begin with a presentation by County staff and the consultant, followed by an open format to allow individuals to ask staff questions on a one-on-one basis.  The meeting dates and times are:

    • Wednesday, March 7, at 5:30 p.m. at the Central Office Complex, 3363 West Park Place, Pensacola
    • Thursday, March 8, at 5:30 p.m. at Our Lady of the Assumption-Hunt Hall, 920 Via de Luna Drive, Pensacola Beach

    The Escambia County Board of County Commissioners will consider action on the Pensacola Beach Master Plan at its regular meeting on Thursday, March 15, at 5:30 p.m. in the Commission Chambers, 221 Palafox Place. For more information, contact Matt Mooneyham, Project Coordinator, at 595-3418, or mrmooneyham@co.escambia.fl.us

    Additionally, if the Escambia County BOCC approves Plan B, the next step would be to do the engineering design.  Such a process provides for public input meetings at several stages, where stakeholders can continue to voice their concerns about things like the loss of parking, the aesthetics of the pedestrian underpass, linkage to other transportation forms like the Beach trolleys or ferries, and, of course, the cost.

    Additional Information and Comments

    The list of links below are various opinions and news articles printed about the plan. If you care what happens to Pensacola beach, take the time to do your homework and read the plan. Then let the County Commissioners know what you think. If you don’t get involved in the process, then don’t complain about the results!

    View prior articles on our website.

    Gulf Breeze News – SRIA Okays $25 Million Roadway Plan (02/16/2012)

    View PB Master Plan on SRIA Website (Jan 24, 2012)

    Gulf Breeze News – Proposed beach road upgrades stir controvery (2/9/2012)

    Gulf Breeze News – Letter to the Editor: Stop Improving Pensacola Beach (2/2/2012)

    Island Times – SRIA Board Votes for Overpass at Marathon Meeting (2/16/2012)

    PNJ – Pensacola Beach Plans Unveiled – 1/25/2012

    PNJ – Is an Elevated Roadway Worth $25M? 2/8/2012

  • 02/21/2012 4:51 PM | Anonymous

    PBA Beachkeepers, the Environmental Committees for PBA, is off to a roaring start in the new year!  The first General Membership meeting of the year was held on February 7, 2012 at the SRIA.  Following is an update on each Beachkeeper Team news, efforts and events.

    Wildlife Conservation Beachkeepers   Harry Purcell is investigating Pelican roosting and whether or not it is necessary and feasible for the group to take on a project to provide more pilings for roosting.  Tisha Christopher has taken on the lead role for the Wildlife group temporarily, and we are seeking a volunteer to get involved in a  leadership role for the long term. Currently, Tisha is meeting with the Florida Shorebird Alliance to determine what role Beachkeepers may have in working with this organization to protect our nesting birds.  Mark Nicholas with the  park service has been a big help in providing information and opportunities for the team to get involved in current Turtle nesting initiatives on the island.  There will be two workshops in April: 14th and 21st, Saturdays 8am-12noon.  If you are interested in volunteering for Turtle Watch in 2012, attendance at one of these workshops is mandatory. For more information contact Mark Nicholas at: mark_nicholas@nps.gov.

    Other project:  Developing and implementing a Turtle Lighting Ordinance for the island and seeking additional volunteers for this group. 

    Dune Preservation Beachkeepersmet with a representative from the Santa Rosa Island Authority to discuss the future of walkovers on the beach. There will be an important meeting at the SRIA regarding this issue on February 22nd at 5pm. (This meeting will address other issues, too, including the future of Trolleys)  Dune goals for 2012 include an educational program at the elementary school level regarding the importance of dune preservation, sand fencing, planting sea oats; establishing guidelines and suggestions for walkovers for private homes; addressing the amount of vehicle traffic on the beach on a daily basis. Contact Terry Preston to volunteer or for more information: terry@ehsmadeeasy.com

    Alternative Transportation and Parking Beachkeepers have been diligently working on assisting the SRIA in the placement of additional bike racks, (a dozen have been added thus far) and creating “green parking spaces” to encourage the use of “green”  transportation (street legal golf carts )on the island. The team has developed a plan and
    presented it to the SRIA, with initial approval, and the next step will be speaking directly to the respective businesses for implementation. If you are a business owner and know a place to put green parking spaces without losing any  existing parking, please contact Jay Baynes at jbaynes@pridjiwf.com.  Trolleys are one of the biggest issues that the team is focusing on. The Trolleys will be addressed at the February 22nd at 5pm meeting.  The ATP Beachkeepers will be making recommendations and your input is requested!  The SRIA has approved the addition of “Tiki Hut” style markers at each Trolley stop for easy identification!

    Recycling and Litter Beachkeepers  will be hosting a Pensacola Beach RECYCLEMANIA DAY on Saturday, March 31st 8am-12noon at Casino Beach.  The day includes: FREE paper shredding from Gilmore
    Services, up to 50 pounds, a Flea Market/Island-style Yard Sale where individuals may bring household items to sell from 8-12noon. ECUA will be on hand to provide information on FREE recycling programs.  Goodwill will
    have a truck to accept your donated items. You can donate what you don’t sell at the end of the sale, or if you don’t want to participate in the yard sale, just bring your items to donate!  Yard sale “space” is FREE to PBA members, and only $20. for non members.  To reserve your space and register, go to www.pbadvocates.org, stop by the Pensacola Beach Visitors Information Center, or pick up an Island Times for a registration form.  Space is limited, first come,  first served! Beachkeepers is still accepting sponsors ($100) and volunteers for this event. Thank you to Pensacola Beach Women’s Club and the Pensacola Beach Chamber of Commerce for sponsoring!  Get involved and get your company noticed!  The future plan is to have a Spring Recyclemania Day and a Fall Recyclemania Day every year!
    For additional info and to volunteer for RECYCLEMANIA Day contact Lois Hausman at loishausman@mchsi.com.

    Beachkeepers at Large:  There is a plan in the works to create an “in-room information/education table top card” that would be distributed in area hotel rooms and rental properties on the island. This piece would be a collaborative effort among all Beachkeeper teams educating visitors to Pensacola Beach on Turtle nest protection and compliance, Dune protection,(why it’s important to stay off the dunes and sea oats) a Trolley schedule, map of bike racks and paths, pedestrian walkways, etc. and where to recycle on the beach (no glass, use recycle bins at walkovers, etc.)

    Beachkeepers needs your help! Turn your passion into something positive for our Island…Join Beachkeepers and Volunteer in 2012 for the Beachkeeper team of your choice.  For general Beachkeeper information please contact JJ Waters at jjwaters101@gmail.com.

    PBA Beachkeepers promotes positive actions to sustain the unique natural assets of Santa Rosa Island, including beach and dune preservation, protection of our flora and fauna, recycling, and responsible recreational use. 

    We are committed to working with area businesses, community groups, and neighbors to improve the place we live in and do business by implementing environmental projects that benefit our community socially and
    economically. 

    These goals will be accomplished through education, community involvement and partnering with other organizations.

  • 12/07/2011 8:53 PM | Anonymous
    Update: At the December 14th meeting of the Architectural and Development Committee of the SRIA, it was voted on to remove this agenda item from agenda as all of the board members were opposed to making any changes to the 50% Rule.

    December 7th Article

    Most of you are familiar with the “50% Rule” on Pensacola Beach.  If a home is damaged in a storm and needs substantial repairs, the SRIA will compare the cost of such repairs to restore the home to its prior condition to the market value of the structure.  If the repair costs exceed 50% of the market value, then the home must be brought into compliance with the SRIA’s flood elevation requirements, which often means the home will need to be torn down and rebuilt on pilings. (Note – homes that are elevated and comply with the flood elevation requirements are not subject to the 50% Rule.)

    The current SRIA 50% Rule for Substantial Damage has no specified time period for the 50%, but in practice the SRIA has looked at the cumulative costs of substantial damage over a 5 year period.  (This is consistent with many other Florida counties or cities that have similar 50% rules with a cumulative period of 5 or 10 years.) This means if there were two hurricanes in a 5 year period, and cumulative substantial damages were over 50%, a home would have to be brought into compliance with the SRIA flood elevation requirements.  After 5 years of no storms, the cumulative percentage is reset at zero.

    However, the SRIA is considering an amendment to the rule that would make the calculation of costs cumulative over the lifetime of the home.  This means if there were 4 hurricanes over a span of, say 40 years, and the cumulative costs exceeded 50% of the market value, the home may have to be torn down and rebuilt to comply with the flood elevation standards.  Also, since the costs are cumulative over the life of the building, if a home with a cumulative total of 46% is sold, the new buyer of the home may have to rebuild the home if the incurred damages of only 5% from a storm.

    Paolo Ghio of the SRIA said that such a change to the 50% Rule should help all Pensacola Beach residences attain more favorable flood insurance rates.

    This issue will be discussed at 5:00 pm the December 14th SRIA Committee meeting . All regularly scheduled meetings of the Santa Rosa Island Authority begin at 5 p.m. and are held in the Authority’s meeting room, 1 Via de Luna.

    The PBA  encourages  you to discuss this issue with your neighbors and to attend the Dec 14th meeting to let your opinion be heard. You are also welcome to e-mail the PBA with your comments at info@pbadvocates.org. Your  your comments will be given to the SRIA.

    Read the 50% Rule and the proposed changes.

  • 10/21/2011 8:02 PM | Anonymous

    150 people attended our annual meeting on October 10th. The main topics of discussion were taxation and fee simple title. County Attorney Alison Rogers and County Commissioner Grover Robinson answered questions from the audience.

    During a short business meeting, the PBA membership approved a change to the bylaws to change the membership
    year to follow the calendar year beginning immediately. The dues will remain at $30 per year per leasehold. The Board of Directors was elected as follows: Jim Cox (President), Scott Holland (Vice President), Glenn Windham (Treasurer), Maria Weisnicht (Secretary), Ray Ascherfeld, Max Scroggin, and JJ Waters.

    Jay Baynes gave an update on the many projects that our environmental group, BeachKeepers, is evaluating.

    Lila Cox gave a short update on the various tax litigation cases. The Portofino case contesting the amount of assessment is being appealed. She indicated that the leaseholders may have to file another lawsuit on the new land taxes. She referred attendees to the Tax Lawsuit website (www.pbtaxsuit.com) for more information and reminded everyone that they needed to keep their  mailing addresses current with the attorney.

    Jim Cox introduced the guest speakers and gave a short overview of the work the PBA directors have been doing to engage the Escambia County Board of Commissioners to find remedies for the double taxation problems including fee simple title  legislation and lease fee offsets.

    Commissioner Grover Robinson gave a short presentation, reiterating many times that the BCC is not responsible for the taxation of the land – that the property appraiser and tax collector have taken this issue on independently from the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners (BCC). Alison Rogers explained that Escambia County cannot legislate offsets. However, the BCC can send tax revenues (on the land) to the SRIA who as the landlord for our leases can refund lease fees.  She also mentioned Florida Statute 196.199 which says that legally the state can tax leased property. This is a complex issue because of timing, residential vs commercial leases and weather the tax revenues will be escrowed and for how long. There was never any mention of using taxes collected on the improvements to offset the shortage in land tax revenues for the commercial leaseholders. The county taxes commercial and residenital leaseholders a total of $18,000,000 in ad valorm taxes (schools get 53%, county gets 47%).

    Another issue was mentioned but not discussed in detail (the creation of a waterfront authority to include  all waterfront properties in Escambia County). Grover stated that he was not in favor of a plan that would take revenue generated on Santa Rosa Island to spend elsewhere. Right now all the lease fees generated from Pensacola Beach stay on  the island and are spent by the SRIA.

    Fee simple title concerns were discussed including need for a Senate sponsor, offset of lease fees (see related article on our website), Municipal Service Benefit Units vs Tax Units, future of SRIA (elimination of SRIA requires state legislation not a BCC  resolution). Another attendee pointed out that the value of our homestead should be calculated retroactively to the date our leases were in effect, not based on the current value.

    For more information on this meeting visit the website for Island Times at www.myislandtimes.com where you can read the current issue as well as archives of past issues.

  • 10/19/2011 7:37 PM | Anonymous

    Pensacola Beach Advocates  is sponsoring a Tax Forum on Tuesday, Nov 1, 2011 at 5:30 at the Pensacola Beach Community Church Hall. We have invited Danny Kepner of Shell Fleming Davis & Menge and Ed Fleming of McDonald Fleming & Moorehead to speak and answer your questions. Topics will include:

    • Tax on Improvements – the First District Court of Appeals recently “certified” the residential leaseholders’ challenge, thus
      opening the door (for the first time) for an appeal to the FL Supreme Court.  Learn the next steps in this litigation.
    • Tax on land – we will need to file a separate challenge to the taxation of leased land in 2011. Learn how you can be part of
      this litigation.
    • Other novel options – some leaseholders with older leases that are silent on the issue of taxation may have another way to transfer the burden of taxation.

    If you have questions that you would like the attorneys to address, please send them to info@pbadvocates.org.

    Please join PBA if these issues are of interest to you. We work hard to keep you informed on critical topics. But there is a cost to our organization and we need your participation and financial support.

    Membership dues are only $30 per year and can be paid at the door for new and renewing members. Or online from this website via Paypal.

    Read more about issues and option surrounding double taxation.

  • 10/19/2011 7:34 PM | Anonymous

    PBA recently notified their members of good news on the tax litigation suit. Become a member so you can get this news as soon as we get it!

    On October 14th, the Florida First District Court of Appeal granted the motion for certification in the lawsuit known as 1108 Ariola v. Jones that involves about 2,400 residential parcels on Pensacola Beach.  This improves the possibility that this case concerning the taxation of improvements could be heard by the Supreme Court.

    The First District Court of Appeal has certified to the Florida Supreme Court the following question related to the taxation of leasehold improvements on
    Pensacola Beach as of matter of great public importance:

    Whether the appellant leaseholders are equitable owners of the leasehold improvements on the subject real property when they have neither a perpetual lease of the underlying real property nor an option to purchase such property for nominal value.

    The attorney in this case will now petition the Florida Supreme Court for consideration of this case.  The Supreme Court can decline, but this action by the First District Court of Appeal improves the chances.

    No other case involving taxation of the improvements on Pensacola Beach or Navarre Beach has made it to the Supreme Court.  None of the other Pensacola Beach cases on improvements could even ask for consideration by the Supreme Court, because the decisions by the lower court were simply affirmed by the appeals court.

    Pensacola Beach Advocates will sponsor a forum on taxation on Pensacola Beach in early November. Everyone should be aware that land in addition to improvements will be included in the 2011 tax bills that will be issued around November 1st.

    Lila Cox,  Communciations Committee
    Pensacola Beach Advocates

    Informed Citizens Giving a Voice to the Beach

  • 10/06/2011 6:58 PM | Anonymous

    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.

    Additional Information

    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.
  • 09/02/2011 9:46 PM | Anonymous

    The environment arm of PBA, Beachkeepers, had its inaugural meeting on Thursday, August 25th at the SRIA.  The meeting was attended by 27 enthusiastic volunteers who got things off to a first start in anticipation of others joining in.  JJ Waters, chairperson, gave an overview of the Beachkeepers mission and how we hope to proceed.  Attendees were asked to break down into 4 groups representing the areas of greatest concern determined from our recent survey of PBA members.  Each group was asked to identify a team leader, brainstorm on action ideas for their topic and develop a short term goal their group could address by the end of this year and a long term goal.

    The four groups and their team leaders are Wildlife Conservation (Teri Stephens); Alternative Transportation/Parking (Jay Baynes); Dune Preservation/Restoration (Terry Preston); and Litter/Recycling (Lois Hausman).  This group is so interested in the environment on Pensacola Beach that several people expressed an interest in working on more than one topic.

    Beachkeepers will meet again on Thursday, September 8th at 5 pm at the SRIA.  The groups will work on further refining their goals and action steps.  Additional participation is encouraged.

    Please consider joining PBA and getting involved in one of our committees.

  • 09/02/2011 9:45 PM | Anonymous

    Now that Escambia County is taxing us on our leaseholds (land), we are in a “double taxation” situation.  Even though we are being taxed on the land and improvements in 2011, the lease fees we pay to the SRIA do not go away.  The SRIA Board adopted the 2012 budget at their August 24th meeting.  This budget goes on to the County Commissioners for approval.  As is always the case, the budget of the SRIA which provides services to visitors, locals and tourists is supported completely by residential and commercial lease fees.  Fortunately, there was no increase in residential lease fees.  This is the result of PBA successfully challenging the proposed increase for 2011.

    Representatives of PBA having been meeting with County Commissioners and SRIA members and urging them to take quick action to provide leaseholders relief from “double taxation”.  The SRIA Board will discuss possible remedies at the September 28th board meeting.  There will be a joint meeting of the SRIA Board and the Board of County Commissioners in town on at 4:30 pm on October 4th.  We need a large turnout at this meeting.

    Please show your support for our efforts by joining the PBA

  • 09/02/2011 9:42 PM | Anonymous

    The status of the law suits remain pretty much the same as reported in the last newsletter.  We wait for a response from the First District Court of Appeal and the Florida Supreme Court.  It is worth noting that 2 attorneys have filed notice with the Supreme Court for Amicus Curiae, “Friend of the Court”.  This can be done by someone who is not a party to the case but believes the court’s decision may affect its interests.  In both cases, they are offering information to assist the Court in reversing the decision to tax the land on Navarre Beach.  You can follow this link and insert case number 1445 to see docket information on the Navarre Beach land case

    http://jweb.flcourts.org/pls/docket/ds_docket_search%20

    Escambia County Property Appraiser, Chris Jones, sent out the Notice of Proposed Property Taxes in August.  Almost everyone noticed the increase in taxes, but it took extra effort to determine the assessed value of the land that accounted for the increase in taxes.  This is the first time the leased land is being taxes as ad valorem property.  Suffice it to say that this Notice was less than user friendly.  You can see a clear breakdown of the assessed value of improvements and land by doing a property search on the Property Appraiser’s web site.  Use the following link and insert any number of the search criteria available on your Notice (name, address, etc.)

    http://www.escpa.org/CAMA/Search.aspx

    The Notice of Proposed Property Taxes provides an opportunity to question the accuracy of the value and to check that appropriate reductions and exemptions have been applied.  If you can not resolve differences with the Property Appraiser’s Office, you can file a petition with the Value Adjustment Board (deadline of September 2, 2011).  In order to contest the legality of taxing the land, a complaint must be filed in the Circuit Court within 60 days of the tax roll being certified.  That deadline usually falls around mid-December.

    PBA President, Jim Cox, convened an August 23rd meeting of representatives who worked with the attorneys on the residential, commercial and Portofino law suits concerning improvements.  Attorneys Danny Kepner and Ed Fleming updated the group on the status of the ongoing cases and discussed options for challenging taxation of the land.  A lot depends on whether or not the Florida Supreme Court agrees to consider the Navarre Beach case.  If they do not agree to take the case, our options are limited (but not gone) to successfully challenge the land tax on Pensacola Beach.  A follow-up meeting of this group is scheduled for mid-September.  PBA will keep you informed on this important issue.

    Please join PBA

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