Melissa Nelson Gabriel, firstname.lastname@example.org Published 1:41 p.m. CT April 4, 2018 | Updated 4:05 p.m. CT April 4, 2018
Palm copse forth Via De Luna Drive abreast the Portofino Island Resort in Pensacola Bank on Monday, January 8, 2018.(Photo: Gregg Pachkowskiemail@example.com)Buy Photo
Florida’s accomplished cloister has beneath to accede a lower court’s cardinal involving charter fees paid to Escambia Canton by Pensacola Bank abode owners.
Wednesday’s advertisement by the Florida Supreme Cloister followed an October accommodation adjoin the canton by Florida’s First District Cloister of Appeal.
At affair is whether the canton can aggregate acreage taxes on acreage beneath condominium towers. Courts accept sided with abode owners’ altercation that the acreage cannot be burdened because it is busy and not owned.
Escambia Canton Acreage Adjudicator Chris Jones said he was aghast at the court’s decision. He said millions of dollars in canton tax acquirement are at stake.
More: Acknowledged activity over Pensacola Bank taxes may go to Florida Supreme Court
Jeff Bergosh, administrator of the Escambia Canton Commission, said the canton will accept to booty a attending at its finances.
“It is a big deal,” he said.
The lawsuit, which was brought by the Bank Club Towers homeowners association, could appulse awaiting acknowledged activity by bags of added abode owners from 26 Pensacola Bank buildings.
Ed Fleming, an advocate for the abode owners, said the accompaniment Supreme Court’s accommodation not to booty up the case should end the long-running acknowledged disputes amid the canton and bank leaseholders.
“The cardinal by the aerial cloister lets angle the decisions in Island Resorts v. Chris Jones, Bank Club v. Chris Jones and Portofino v. Chris Jones. All three of those decisions begin that the apparent accent of the authoritative Florida statutes makes leasehold interests in county-owned acreage subject, exclusively, to abstract claimed acreage taxation — not ad valorem taxation,” he said in a appear statement.
All Pensacola Bank acreage is leased, rather than owned, because of a 1946 acceding that deeded abundant of Santa Rosa Island to Escambia Canton from the federal government. The accomplishment acceding banned the canton from affairs the acreage and assured that the acreage charge be acclimated to account the public.
In the 1950s and 1960s, canton leaders absitively to advance the bank as a day-tripper allure and created the arrangement of 99-year leases absolute by the Santa Rosa Island Authority to acquiesce bartering and residential development.
More: Appeals cloister affirms cardinal in favor of address owners in Pensacola Bank over acreage tax
Because the acreage was busy rather than owned, it was advertised as “tax-free” property. But canton leaders afterwards angry to the bank as a antecedent of acreage tax revenues after the island was heavily developed. That prompted a alternation of lawsuits that abide today.
Complicating the affair is the actuality that the charter agreements were accounting application altered accent through the decades. Some leases accompaniment they will be automatically renewed afterwards 99 years, and added leases accompaniment that they are accountable to renegotiation afterwards 99 years.
In assorted rulings, courts accept said that the canton can alone tax the acreage of bank leaseholders whose charter are not perpetually renewable and that the canton can tax improvements to the property, but not the acreage itself.
Jones, the acreage appraiser, said his appointment is reviewing the accent in all bank leases and the amount of acreage improvements. Since 2004, the canton has accustomed added than $200 actor in tax acquirement from the beach.
“We are aghast with the decision. This leaves a check of tax action on the island. The tax action is asperous based on the accent in altered leases,” he said.
Jones said the canton will accept to analysis tax payments fabricated by leaseholders, which accept been captivated in escrow awaiting the aftereffect of the clothing to actuate whether the payments should be returned.
The escrow money includes about $6 actor captivated in a assets armamentarium by the Escambia Canton School District because of ambiguity about the lawsuit.
Melissa Nelson Gabriel can be accomplished at firstname.lastname@example.org or 850-426-1431.
Read or Share this story: https://www.pnj.com/story/news/local/pensacola/beaches/2018/04/04/florida-supreme-court-rejects-countys-request-consider-beach-tax-case/486401002/
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