With just ten days to go until Florida’s enterprise zones cease to exist, the office of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has weighed in on a Pensacola area tax incentive question.
However, at least one area official feels like their response wasn’t helpful.
“I’m disappointed that the Attorney General basically chose not to answer the question,” said Escambia County Property Appraiser Chris Jones, whose office requested the opinion. “She didn’t help the matter one bit.”
Lawyers for Jones’ office had asked Bondi to determine whether a planned $50 million redevelopment project in downtown Pensacola was eligible for a ten-year Economic Development Ad Valorem Tax Exemption, or EDATE. While the project doesn’t meet state criteria for the tax incentive, it is eligible under a state enterprise zone program; however, that program is set to expire at the end of this year.
City council members and county commissioners approved the incentives earlier this month despite lingering questions about whether the incentives will be valid after the enterprise zone program expires. City and council incentives for the project could total as much as $6 million over ten years.
Bondi’s office issued a four-page opinion which doesn’t weigh in on the question, instead suggesting that local officials “seek a definitive judicial resolution” — in other words, take it to court. “I regret that this office could not be of more substantive assistance to you in this matter,” wrote Senior Assistant Attorney General Gerry Hammond. “The momentous nature of these issues and their tax implications would be better served by a binding judicial resolution.”
Jones suggested Monday that city and county officials could instead seek clarification from the state legislature.
We’ve included the opinion from Bondi’s office below: