Sales tax questions to be finalized for August vote

Posted on May 20, 2016 by Louis Cooper

Next week, the Santa Rosa County Commission is expected to finalize language for two ballot questions asking voters to approve sales tax increases to fund a new courthouse and other capital needs.

The commission will discuss the ballot language at its committee meeting, set for  9 a.m., Monday, May 23, at the Santa Rosa County Administrative Office Complex, located at 6495 U.S. 90, Milton (behind McDonald’s). The agenda for the meeting is posted at The meeting will be broadcast online at

Generally, commissioners discuss items at committee meetings on Mondays with decisions coming at the regular meeting the following Thursday. The meeting on Thursday, May 26, is set for 9 a.m. at the Administrative Office Complex.

The two proposed questions, discussed by commissioners earlier this month, are presented in a report from County Administrator Tony Gomillion as:

  • “Shall a one half cent sales tax be levied to fund the construction of a new Courthouse/Judicial Center. The tax will be levied for a period of Five (5) years and generate, by present estimate, approximately $35 million.”
  • Shall a one half cent sales tax be levied to fund law enforcement/fire and public safety facilities and equipment, transportation and drainage improvements, infrastructure projects/public facilities, recreation/natural resources and capital equipment. The tax will be levied for a period of five (5) years.”

Each question will give  citizens the opportunity to vote in favor of or against the respective tax increase.

The proposed courthouse — to be located behind the current courthouse in downtown Milton — would cost about $47 million as envisioned in the final report from consultant HOK. The facility would be 135,000 square-foot at three-stories. It would include six standard courtrooms, one high-volume courtroom, judges chambers, court administration, jury services, a public law library, holding and security areas, and offices for the clerk of the court, state attorney and public defender.


Earlier this month, some commissioners said they would like to cut the size and cost of the proposed facility before the August vote.


The second tax increase would go toward  infrastructure needs like Sheriff’s Office patrol cars, drainage projects, recreation needs and other capital expenditures, according to earlier discussions.

The ballot language must be approved and sent to the supervisor of elections by June 1 in order to be included on the Aug. 30 primary ballot.


Commissioners are also set to hear a request from the Northwest Florida Marine Education and Discovery of Gulf Ecosystems — or NWFL Marine EDGE — on Navarre Beach to pre-purchase a $55,410 underwater camera. The camera would be covered by a portion of the $125,000 Gateway to the Gulf grant the county has already awarded the marine science center.

“The Gateway to the Gulf grant goal is to expand programming and visitor opportunities … through the placement of an underwater, self-cleaning camera that will allow live video streaming of underwater activities,” NWFL Marine Edge Director Charlene Mauro wrote to the Santa Rosa County Tourist Development Council. “The underwater camera also allow all visitors to participate in water monitoring through toggles and scientific nodes that can be opened and closed remotely.”

Other items on Monday’s agenda include:

  • Appointment of April Sarver to the TDC. Sarver, who works for ResortQuest, would replace Laurie Gallup. who resigned from the council.
  • Discussion of hiring DMOproz., as recommended by the TDC, to provide strategic planning services to the TDC for the amount of $15.000.
  • Discussion of advertising a two-year marketing/advertising contract for the TDC.

The Santa Rosa County Commission will also conduct a rezoning meeting Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Administrative Office Complex in Milton. Items on the agenda include:

  • A request from the Catholic church’s Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee for a zoning change for 20.5 acres in the 7600 block of East Bay Bloulevard in Navarre to build a K-12, 600-student school. The property is currently zoned R1 (Single Family Residential) and the church is seeking to have that changed to PBD (Planned Business District). The Zoning Board recommended approval 5-0.
  • A request by the Holley-Navarre Water System for a conditional use permit of property in a residential area to construct a “rapid infiltration basin” wastewater disposal system. This property is located in Williams Creek Drive in Navarre. The Zoning Board recommended approval 4-2.