On August 6, 2015, the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) approved the transfer of two SRIA departments to the county. All expenses associated with the Departments of Public Works and Public Safety, including employees, equipment, and operating costs will now be funded without the use of our lease fees.
As a result, the SRIA will reduce both residential and business lease fees by 50% effective October 1, 2015.
SRIA and County staff will begin meeting immediately to ensure a smooth transition. During the budget workshop there was much discussion about maintaining the current level of services on Pensacola Beach. Jack Brown, County Administrator, assured the Board that County officials plan to create two new divisions under the County's Public Works and Public Safety departments. All current SRIA staff positions would be transitioned into these two divisions, and it is expected that they will continue to function much as they do right now.
During the budget workshop they also discussed the fact that they need to start looking into what the SRIA should look like when all governmental services are eventually picked up by the County. Do we want a SRIA Board? If so, what do we envision as their role in managing Pensacola Beach? Now is the time to voice your concerns and suggestions.
This reduction in lease fees is a result of a coalition of PBA, the lodging representatives, and the Pensacola Beach Chamber, who educated, informed and encouraged the BoCC to take action after over 11 years of collecting taxes on the island while allowing us to pay for governmental services with lease fees that other county residents enjoy at no charge beyond their ad valorem taxes. We consider this to be the first step towards the elimination of lease fees, and we fully intend to continue our work towards this end.