Commissioners to discuss details of another sales tax referendum

Posted on February 18, 2016 by Louis Cooper

The Santa Rosa County Commission is set to discuss the details of a referendum asking citizens — once again — to increase the county’s sales tax to fund local projects.

In November 2014, voters rejected a 1 percent percent sales tax increase by 52 to 48 percent. That money would have been used to fund a new courthouse.

“The ongoing need for the county to find an alternative source of funding for local capital projects typically revolves around the discussion of a (Local Option Sales Tax) as one of the few sources of capital revenue available,” County Administrator Tony Gomillion wrote in a report to commissioners. “The most common current and future projects discussed are a courthouse, public safety … beach renourishment, community access roads, sidewalks, recreation, etc.”

Commissioners will discuss the issue at their committee meeting set for 9 a.m. Monday, Feb. 22, at the Santa Rosa County Administrative Office Complex, located at 6495 U.S. 90 (behind McDonald’s). The agenda for the meeting is posted at The meeting will be broadcast online at

Customarily, the Monday “committee meetings” are used to discuss and debate items on the agenda, while formal decisions are made at the commission’s regular meeting, held the following Thursday. The regular meeting is set for 9 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 25,  at the Administrative Complex in Milton.

Gomillion is asking commissioners to set a workshop date to discuss timing and language of a LOST referendum and to set funding levels.

Commissioners are also expected to discuss whether the downtown location for a courthouse is suitable in light of recent wetlands determinations.

Other items on the agenda include:

  • Setting a public hearing for March 10 to establish a Municipal Services Benefits Unit to help fund renourishment of 4.1 miles of Navarre Beach. The MSBU would collect about $5 million from Navarre Beach property owners to help pay for the project.
  • Discussion of a special events permit for the Emerald Coast Tough Mudder, set for April 9-10 at the Ates Ranch in East Milton.  Last year’s initial Tough Mudder, a single-day event, brought more than 14,000 out-of-market visitors to Santa Rosa County, generating more than 4,100 hotel room nights with a total economic impact of $6.1 million, according to a report from organizers. The new special events permitting process will allow the event to serve alcohol on both days. Under normal circumstances, alcohol sales are not allowed on Sundays in the north end of the county.
  • Discussion of a proposal from the Santa Rosa County Tourist Development Council to spend $10,000 on a Connex Consumer Profile from RUF Strategic Solutions of Olathe, Kan. The profile would use data from lodging providers on Navarre Beach and the rest of Santa Rosa County to help improve future marketing efforts.
  • Presentation by the Navarre Beach Beautification Committee on its past projects and current and future plans.