Tourists Targeted to Pay Cost of County’s Largest American Flag Project

Posted on February 25, 2024 by Romi White

Geo-technical work was performed February 23 at the proposed flag site at the Santa Rosa County Administrative Complex in Milton

Santa Rosa County District 3 Commissioner James Calkins wants Santa Rosa County to be known for having the largest American flag in Florida; however, he wants tourists visiting the county to pay for the project.

Calkins on February 8 received unanimous approval from his fellow commissioners to seek bids for the project, which he proposes to fund through local bed tax money.

Bed taxes are generated by overnight guests who stay in a hotels, condos, Airbnbs or other sleeping accomodations. But the State of Florida has tight restrictions on how bed taxes can be spent. For example, counties like Santa Rosa, which generates around $6 million per year in local bed taxes, are prohibited from using that money for roads or other infrastructure improvements. In a nutshell, bed taxes must be used for capital construction of tourist-related facilities, tourist promotion, and beach or shoreline maintenance.

The county was already planning improvements at the County Administrative Complex when Calkins had the idea to explore potential costs and ways to pay the for largest American flag in Florida, explaining his inspiration came from a large American flag flying on U.S. 98 in Midway. “We don’t have a big one in north Santa Rosa County,” he said, suggesting it will would show Santa Rosa County’s support for the United States of America and  the military and become a sight-seeing attraction.

“We have lots of needs in this county that are not being met by tax dollars. If we could find some way to fund this without using the dollars that we take from our citizens, I think that would be a great idea,” said Sharon Hawthorne of Jay.

A crew with Larry M. Jacobs & Associates on February 23 was drilling at the site to collect samples to send back to a lab for engineers to determine how deep to set the anchor for the flag pole so that it doesn’t tip over during high winds. 

The geo-technical work is being completed ahead of the county seeking competitive bids, which are required for expenditures greater than $50,000. Commissioners can approve or reject the bids after they’re received.