The proposed Okaloosa County Budget includes an approximately 12.3 percent increase in the millage rate on all property in the county, which will raise the property tax on a taxable $200,000 residence (after homestead exemption) by about $67 and raise $5.2 million in revenue.
The shortfall being covered is due to increases in county spending in a few key areas. Three of them, totaling more than twice the revenue increase ($12 million) are found in road construction, water and sewer (including a hinky deal in the form of a “loan” from 2012 for $3.6 million) and solid waste/recycling.
Then there is $3.34 million in increased spending plus drawing down of $2 million in reserves toward increased spending on the promotion of tourism. Absent that spending, no millage increase would be required.
The promotion of tourism is a great idea however it should generate enough additional bed and associated business tax revenue through increased tourism to be entirely self-supporting. If it does not then it is a waste of money as it does not bring sufficient economic benefit to the community to cover the expense.
Our County Commission is clearly out of control. A 12 percent increase in millage is unconscionable, given these figures, and will materially dampen economic activity by destroying personal economic surplus.
Remember too that the entire $5.2 million they wish to tax from you is money you can’t spend at local merchants yourself.
You’ll need a lot more tourists to replace that.