LAUREL HILL — Next week, residents can speak out on whether the city should take a vote on dissolving the city.
A town hall meeting is 6 p.m. Tuesday at First Baptist Church of Laurel Hill. A city council meeting will follow.
City leaders chose the church because they expect a large crowd, Council Chairperson Larry Hendren said.
"We want to get the community's input and hear what they have to say," he said.
Each resident who wants to speak on the matter will have three minutes to do so, City Clerk Nita Miller said.
The council must take several steps for a possible dissolution to appear on the ballot, Hendren said.
"We want to make sure that we do it right the first time and not have any regrets afterwards," he said.
That means getting expert advice along the way.
Hendren said he spoke with an attorney from Cedar Grove in Bay County, which experienced a similar situation.
"Cedar Grove was the first Florida municipality to be dissolved by a vote from citizens (in 2008)," Hendren said.
The church’s fellowship hall will be ready for the meeting, the Rev. Mike McVay said.
"I hope a lot of people will be here," he said.
McVay, who owns property in the city, said he personally favors this north county community rejoining Okaloosa County, but he is open to hearing the benefits of remaining a city.
"If there is one advantage to remaining the city, I hope to know by Tuesday night," he said. "I've never seen the advantage of it."
McVay — who said he doesn’t want to continue paying both city and county property taxes — said he wants repairs for Laurel Hill’s main roads, including Steel Mill Creek Road and State Road 85.
"The dirt road I live on is a lot smoother than (the paved) roads in Laurel Hill," McVay said. "I think the county would eventually do something about it."
Okaloosa County Commissioner Wayne Harris said neither he nor the other commissioners plan to attend the town hall meeting.
"I don't want my or any other commissioner's presence at the meeting to be misconstrued (as) being for or against," Harris said in an email. "I know that (Okaloosa County) will stand by whatever decision is made and will equally help, if legal to help."
The council set Tuesday's town hall at its Nov. 15 meeting. Long-time resident Harold Jones raised the issue when discussing the main roads’ poor condition.
WANT TO GO? The town hall meeting is 6 p.m. Tuesday at First Baptist Church of Laurel Hill. A city council meeting will follow.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.