SHALIMAR — The total estimated cost of the 44 projects on Okaloosa County’s half-cent sales tax project list is just more than $134 million.
The estimated revenue that the county might receive over the 10-year life of the tax, however, totals about $127 million.
Because of that discrepancy and the fact that it will take some time for the tax revenue to accumulate, the county might end up issuing bonds or taking out loans to help get some of the projects completed more quickly.
Those issues were some of the main points of discussion at Monday’s meeting of the County Infrastructure Surtax Advisory Committee at the County Administration Building.
The five-member, County Commission-appointed committee is tasked with providing recommendations “to assure the public that those projects selected for funding are adequately reviewed and will provide the greatest benefit to the citizens,” according to county information.
In last month’s general election, a majority of county voters approved the county’s 10-year, half-penny tax referendum.
The tax takes effect Jan. 1 and is estimated to generate about $19 million annually for public safety, transportation and stormwater system capital improvements. Almost $12.7 million of the estimated total will go to the county and the remainder will be divided among its nine municipalities, based on population.
At Monday’s meeting, County Administrator John Hofstad said the county intends to spend equal amounts of its portion of sales-tax funds on public safety, transportation and stormwater system capital projects.
The money won’t be divided exactly by thirds, however, said Greg Kisela, deputy county administrator of operations.
“It’s not an exact science,” Kisela said about the funding breakdown.
State and/or federal dollars are anticipated to help fund some of the projects on the county's list.
County Public Works Director Jason Autrey said the county has a couple of projects that are ready to go forward ASAP: work on the southwest portion of the planned bypass that would ease heavy traffic on State Road 85 in Crestview, and various improvements to Commons Drive in Destin.
Based on direction from Hofstad, county staff plans to determine detailed timelines and funding information for the various county sales tax projects that are slated to get underway within the next 12 months and share those details at the next advisory committee meeting. It’s set for Jan. 24 at the County Administration Building.
To learn more about the sales tax projects and the committee, visit gis.myokaloosa.com/salestax.