Okaloosa County Commissioners are Considering a Sales Tax Hike

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The heavy rains that flooded parts of Okaloosa County several weeks ago reinforced what County Commissioners already knew.

The County desperately needs to upgrade its storm water drainage system.

Commissioner Dave Parisot wants to pay for those upgrades by raising the County's sales taxes by a penny.

The increase could generate more than $32 million a year.

"These storms really triggered I think a reminder that with this discussion that we have to make sure we are paying as we go and we are keeping our infrastructure up to the task of serving our residents,” said Comissioner Nathan Boyles.

Voters would have to approve the tax increase.

Parisot is suggesting Commissioners off-set the burden on locals by cutting property taxes.

"That was the issue that was very interesting to me is that we could use sales tax, which is more broadly applied, and is only paid if you buy goods to off-set ad valorem taxes which are forced on the folks who own property,” stated Boyles.

Walton County Officials believe Okaloosa County is on the right track.

Walton added a one-cent sales tax in the late 90's to improve trash service and fund capital projects, including storm damage repairs.

"To have a fund that allows you to do things, in an emergency fix or to be able to speed something up, not only benefits the county, but also the residents who use that infrastructure every day,” said Louis Svehla, Public Information Officer for Walton County.

Okaloosa County Commissioners will discuss the proposal at their June 3rd meeting.

It could wind up on the November ballot.