On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the fee simple title bill advanced by Republican congressman Matt Gaetz, according to a press release from his office. The bill, called the “Escambia County Land Conveyance Act,” would give leaseholders on Santa Rosa Island the option to acquire fee simple titles to their property.
Currently, residents pay property taxes in addition to a lease fee. Gaetz called this double taxation. He said his bill would eliminate lease fees.
The land along Santa Rosa Island was previously owned by the federal government before it was conveyed with conditions to Escambia County in 1946. Escambia then leased the portion containing Navarre Beach to Santa Rosa County on a 99 year term for $100 a year.
Under the new legislation the island would be officially handed over to Escambia County and freed from the existing conditions. The portion currently contained within Santa Rosa County would also be handed over to Santa Rosa County ownership.
The bill now moves to the Senate, where a companion bill has already been introduced by Republican U.S. senator Marco Rubio and Democrat U.S. senator Bill Nelson.
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