Legislators Approve Local Bill for Perdido Incorporation Vote in 2024

Posted on October 28, 2023 by Romi White

Members of Protect Navarre, which opposes incorporation, attended Tuesday night’s legislative delegation hearing at St. Sylvester’s Church in Navarre and held up “No Inc” signs when Navarre resident Debbie Gunnoe spoke out against a current incorporation effort. No local bill related to the incorporation of Navarre was passed during that hearing. 

Legislators from Northwest Florida this week hosted delegation hearings in Santa Rosa and Escambia Counties and approved several local bills, including one which could move the incorporation effort in Perdido Key forward to the November 2024 ballot.

The Santa Rosa County delegation hearing took place Tuesday, October 24 and was hosted by the county’s state legislators: Senator Doug Broxson, Representative Alex Andrade and Representative Joel Rudman. 

There was no local bill related to the incorporation of Navarre on that hearing’s agenda, and Preserve Navarre, a registered social welfare organization pushing for Navarre’s incorporation, did not sign up to speak.

However, Navarre resident Debbie Gunnoe was on the agenda, speaking out against what she described as “half-truths and falsehoods” in pro-incorporation materials distributed by Preserve Navarre. 

“We will pay more taxes,” Gunnoe said. “With struggles to pay for basic needs, how are families and those on limited incomes expected to survive in Navarre with all the added costs of incorporation?”

Additionally, a new effort to incorporate only Navarre Beach, excluding the mainland, was also on that hearing’s agenda. The group, which hasn’t yet been named, was representated by Drew Ruthraff, an airline pilot who lives on the island. Ruthraff stated his group has meet with staff from the office of Andrade, who represents Navarre Beach.

“Nobody, including myself, has decided that incorporation is the way to go…doing so before we have all the information would be putting the cart before the horse,” Ruthraff told South Santa Rosa News. 

Meanwhile, during the Thursday, October 26 delegation hearing in Escambia County, Broxson, Andrade were joined by Rep. Michelle Salzman, who represents parts of Escambia County. The trio voted unanimously to approve legislation which could place an incorporation vote for Perdido Key on the November 2024 ballot for voters in that area to decide.

But before that local bill can move forward, the legislation must be reviewed by several House committees and staffers and interlocal agreements will need to be established with the county so the actual costs of services would be known.