No county commissioner has ever asked for an economic impact analysis of fee simple conversion of beach leases. We understand why they have not. The county will lose millions if these leasehold conversions take place.
1. ½ of the residential leases on Pensacola Beach are not considered in perpetuity; meaning the land is not taxed. In many cases the land is as valuable as the structure. These lease holders will not convert to fee simple because it would amount to as much as double the county ad valorem tax
2. The other ½ of residential leases will convert to fee simple title because they will pay no more taxes than they are now being assessed because their leases are taxed as if they own the land. Net annual loss to the county on the loss of those lease fees – $2 million.
3. Condos: The recent decision by the 1st District Court of Appeal exempts condo owners from paying any tax attributable to the land. They will not convert. Estimated annual loss — at least $2 million.
4. Commercial leases. Any commercial lease holders that convert to fee simple will cause those lease fees to be lost and the taxes now assessed will not increase. Unknown loss of revenue, however, revenue will be lost. In addition, the 5% surcharge on beach sales will be lost if leases are converted to fee simple. Current annual revenue — $1 million.
5. Escambia County will lose millions. No public official will dispute this basic truth. Why has Escambia County paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to a federal lobbyist lobbying congress since 2011 for passage of this act?