Mayor Hayward places hold on EDATE applications

Last week, Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward withdrew the EDATE (Economic Development Ad Valorem Tax Exemptions) application for an assisted living facility on the site of the former Pensacola Racquet Club when it was discovered the city had not submitted the application and the necessary documentation to Escambia County Property Appraiser Chris Jones for his review.

Mayor Hayward had placed the EDATE on the council agenda asking for approval. Councilmen Brian Spencer and Larry Johnson are investors in the project.

The mayor sent yesterday afternoon a statement that he has directed Dick Barker, interim city administrator and CFO, to review the city’s process for EDATE. No further applications will be presented to the city council until compliance issues are resolved.

Here is his full statement:

Economic Development Ad Valorem Tax Exemptions (EDATEs) are a valuable economic development tool that helps local government create a positive environment for business and job growth. In processing a recent EDATE application, City staff followed the same process they have used for many years, since long before I took office as mayor. However, it has come to my attention that this process does not meet the requirements of the relevant state statute.

I appreciate the efforts of Property Appraiser Chris Jones to help the City correct this issue, and I have directed the City Administrator to work closely with his office to ensure our process complies with the letter of the law. As part of that process, City staff will review past and present EDATE applications for compliance, and no further applications for EDATE incentives will be presented to the City Council until these issues have been resolved.