Bay County voters have to wait until August to vote on a one-cent sales tax, but a recent survey is already revealing how most voters want the tax money to be spent.
Bay County commissioners want to revive the sales tax, which ended last year, primarily to pay off the county's waste incinerator, but the ten-year tax hike would bring in enough money to help improve other things like parks, storm water drainage and the county's library. Now, Bay County voters are speaking out about how they want money from the proposed tax hike to be spent.
Sandy Watson owns a lot of property on Deluna Place in West Panama City Beach. It's the only street in the area that isn't paved, which makes it less pleasing for Sandy's potential renters.
A recent survey by the county found 64 percent of Bay County voters want proposed tax revenues to go to improving roads. Improving the county's storm water management system came in second with 58 percent. Fifty percent of voters want parks improved, and 45 percent supported using the proposed tax money to renew the county's library.
"I use the library's computers and sometimes it's a wait, so they could get more, and they need to get newer books," says Rick Dillaty.
The county staff has created an outline of how the tax money should be spent over the next ten years:
- $53 million would be used to pay off the incinerator.
- About $22 million would go to improving the storm water system.
- $8 million would be used to improve the library.
- $5 million to leisure services.
- About $32 million would go to roads and transportation, which makes Sandy very happy.
"I think it would be a great idea to use the one-cent sales tax to pave the roads, mainly because it would make the whole environment cleaner from the dust and mud," says Sandy Watson.
County staff will present their recommendations for funding to commissioners at Tuesday's meeting, but carrying out the proposed spending all hinges on the August vote on the one-cent sales tax.
Food, utilities, medical expenses and rent would all be exempt from the one-cent sales tax, and the tax only applies to the first $5,000 spent.