Friday, February 03, 2006

Court Rejects Beach Tax Appeal

"Unreason and injustice at the top, unreason and injustice at the heart and at the bottom, unreason and injustice from beginning to end — if it ever has an end — how should poor Rick, always hovering near it, pluck reason out of it? He no more gathers grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles, than older men did, in old times.”
-- Charles Dickens, Bleak House
The Pensacola News Journal is reporting today that the Florida Supreme Court has dismissed without comment the last appeal of Navarre Beach leaseholders against imposition of county real estate taxes.

The end of the bitter 5-year battle between Navarre Beach leaseholders and Santa Rosa County came with a whimper, not a bang. In a one-sentence order, the Supreme Court simply declined to review the case. This allows last year's First District Court of Appeals ruling to stand. That opinion is archived on the web site of the Navarre Beach Leaseholders Assn..

As Gannett's Tallassee reporter writes:
[T]he end of the legal challenge... means 800 leaseholders now owe about $2 million in 2001 taxes. In all likelihood, it also means more than 1,700 Navarre leaseholders now will have to pay more than $19 million in taxes assessed through 2005.
It's a matter of some concern what effect draining nearly $20 million from local residents may have on Santa Rosa County's economy and real estate market. The decision also darkens the clouds over similar lawsuits by Pensacola Beach leaseholders who are challenging Escambia County's parallel effort to impose taxes.

Some are saying that even if the tax is upheld, residents and business who can prove they relied on past promises of tax exemption when they bought beach property still may have a breach of contract suit against the state or county.

If the lawyers get creative enough, maybe the county should rename the beach Pensacola Bleak House.

1 comment:

Bryan said...

Assuming that your end of the island works like mine, the land can't be sold as the transfer document requires that it continue to be held by local governments or it reverts to the Federal government.

If you don't own it, you can't be taxed on the land, you can only be taxed on the "improvements". This would work in the same way as a trailer park.

It isn't the fault of the people who live there that the counties didn't structure the lease any better than they did. This whole thing is just strange.

OT: you've been down most of the night thanks to blogger. I've sent you an e-mail.