FORT WALTON BEACH — County commissioners will discuss a proposal to increase the local sales tax during their June 17 meeting in Fort Walton Beach.
Commissioner Dave Parisot has urged the board to place a 1 cent tax hike on the November general election ballot for approval by local voters. The increase would generate more money for storm water and drainage improvements.
Other commissioners, including Wayne Harris and Nathan Boyles, said they want to move more slowly, and suggested pushing the referendum to the spring of 2015 to coincide with the next municipal elections. Commissioner Don Amunds said he was “leery of trying to cram” the referendum into the 90 days it would take to place it on the November ballot.
Parisot said moving the referendum to 2015 could cost the county as much as $100,000 because municipal elections don’t use as many polling places as countywide general elections and will require paying to open more.
The sales tax hike would provide an estimated $32.6 million in additional revenue, with about $21.8 million going to the county and about $10.8 million to be divided among the nine cities and towns.
Under Parisot’s proposal, the county and its nine municipalities would agree to offset the increase with a reduction of property tax rates if the referendum passes.