Fee Simple Title

Update

2/7/14 - Fee Simple Title Legislation Passes in the US House

Background

On Pensacola and Navarre Beach, several lawsuits challenging the ad valorem taxation of the leased improvements have been denied by the circuit and appellate courts. The Escambia County Property Appraiser, Chris Jones, has indicated his intent to tax the leased land on Pensacola Beach beginning in 2011.

If the Pensacola Beach and Navarre Beach leaseholders are eventually denied in all their challenges of the ad valorem taxation of both improvements and land, it is only fair for the two Counties to eliminate lease fees and offer leaseholders the option to obtain fee simple title to the property.

Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties recently passed joint resolutions to amend the 1947 transfer of land to Escambia County to allow the counties to offer fee simple title. It is expected that the federal legislative process will take two years. In the opinion of the attorneys handling the leaseholder challenges of ad valorem taxation, this action will not affect the tax challenges already in the courts.

In January 2011, the Escambia Board of County Commissioners voted to work with our congressional representatives to introduce federal legislation that would allow the county to convey fee simple title to Beach leaseholders who are interested in accepting it. This is a rather complex issue and PBA committee members provided input to the county on the wording of the resolution. Our input was incorporated into the final resolution.

On May 5th 2011, the Escambia Board of County commissioners unaminously adopted a resolution that spells out their intent with respect to how fee simple title will be offered to Pensacola Beach leaseholders. The resolution states that:

  • Wherever possible, fee simple title will be offered directly to sub-lessees.
  • Lease fees will be eliminated for all leaseholders, including those that do not accept fee simple title.
  • The County will maintain an entity (replacing the SRIA, but as yet undefined) on Pensacola Beach to provide the current level of service in the areas of public safety, maintenance and recreational promotion.
  • There is no intention to amend the Pensacola Beach’s portion of the Escambia County Master Plan, rezone residential lots for commercial or condominium development, or alter the residential building cap.

The PBA felt it was important for the BOCC to express their intent on these issues, and we are very pleased to see the BOCC take this important step. It clarifies many matters for beach leaseholders and charts a path for the future. Thanks to the PBA committee members who helped make this happen.

Relevant documents and links for more information:

Links

http://www.shellfleming.com/articles/article_102810.pdf

 

 

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