Open letter to the community:
Raising the gas tax requires a super-majority: four votes out of five.
I have my doubts about whether we'll be able to count to four on the issue this year. That's okay, though. Our road department staff will continue to do the best they can by spreading the limited available resources as thin as possible — I mean that literally. We'll continue spreading thin layers of tar and rock across existing roadways instead of actually resurfacing the roads.
We will not be able to fully fund and tackle any projects of any size, including projects that would have an economic benefit to the community, but we will do our best to keep asphalt in the potholes.
Dealing with our transportation infrastructure in Okaloosa County requires a multi-pronged approach; having adequate gas tax revenues is not the only answer.
We must be diligent in maximizing our access to our federal and state gas tax dollars through grants and legislative appropriations.
We must work to protect the Mid-Bay Bridge Authority — which has a track record of building needed transportation infrastructure in our county — from legislative interference.
We must also look for creative ways to maintain and improve our transportation network, no matter how small.
One way to do so may be through the creation of Municipal Service Taxing Units, or MSTU. Across the county there are unpaved roads that, for a variety of reasons, are not county-maintained.
The county requires that these roads meet minimum technical standards before being accepted into the road network.
To do so is very expensive.
One alternative, with the support of residents living along the roadway, is to create an MSTU. Residents of McCauley Road in Baker could be the first in Okaloosa County to successfully create an MSTU for road improvements.
Together with Public Works staff, I will hold an informational meeting about the project at 6 p.m. May 30 at Baker Recreation Center.