SHALIMAR — The tri-county area's close brush with Hurricane Michael last October reminded local government officials to be financially prepared for Mother Nature’s wrath.

“I think it’s critically important at this point going forward, knowing what happened to the east of us just 70-80 miles down the road several months ago, to maintain a healthy reserve cash balance in the event we need it,” Okaloosa County Administrator John Hofstad told the County Commission last week.

He added, “In talking to my colleague in Bay County a month or so ago, he indicated to me they had a $30 million cash reserve, and they burned through that cash reserve in about five days” following Michael’s landfall for items such as debris removal and emergency repairs.

June 1 marks the official start of the hurricane season for the Gulf of Mexico and the rest of the Atlantic Basin.

Hofstad said Okaloosa County’s current general fund cash reserves top $10 million, which is about 10 percent of the overall general fund.

“We have made, and this board has made, a concerted effort over the last several years to grow our general fund reserves,” he said. “We need to continue that trend.”

In his recent State of the City Address, Fort Walton Beach Mayor Dick Rynearson said the City Council has committed to ensuring the city is prepared for emergencies.

“As recommended by the Government Finance Officers Association, the city maintains an additional 30 percent of budgeted expenditures in its general fund and 33 percent of budgeted expenses in each of its enterprise funds (water, sewer, solid waste and stormwater),” Rynearson said. “In total, the city has approximately $16.2 million ready to use in the event of a disaster.”

Crestview has $1 million in its budget for emergencies, said Crestview City Manager Tim Bolduc, who intends to increase that amount over time. He said savings on projects throughout the year also could be used for emergencies.

Destin has $2.1 million set aside for emergencies, city spokeswoman Catherine Card said.

“We have not added any additional funding since this was established in 2013,” she said.

Last year the Santa Rosa County Commission established a reserve policy that identified $20 million for immediate disaster/emergency response, County Administrator Dan Schebler said.

“There are additional local funds that can be made available under a declared state of emergency,” he said. “The amount of funds held in reserve is reviewed periodically but is not normally adjusted annually. Responding to a major disaster like Hurricane Michael will require borrowing until federal assistance becomes available.”

Walton County’s current unrestricted general fund balance is about $12.9 million.

“We continue to add to this amount as we can each budget year,” county spokesman Louis Svehla said.