Property Taxes will Rise in Okaloosa County

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"Our State Legislatures have put on us about $38.5 million in unfunded mandates. If we didn't have that $38.5 million and in fact we didn't have those mandates, we wouldn't even raise taxes,” said Commissioner Wayne Harris.

For 5 years Okaloosa County has had one of the lowest millage rates in the state, a little more than 3.2.

Harris says it could only get the county so far.

"After a certain time it doesn't cut it anymore and this year we could have had a deficit of $1.8 to $2 million dollars,” said Harris.

Some worry the higher tax rate could have a big effect on business owners.

"Anytime we are asked to pay more it is going to be difficult. So property taxes would hurt us in some ways,” said Sean Peters of The Journey Java Connection.

No one's sure what the outcome will be, once everything goes into place.

"We are driven by small businesses in this community, it’s necessary and important, so anything we can do we can do to help the small businesses instead of hurt them is certainly going to be the best thing for us to do,” said Peters.

Another by-product of a tight budget, Harris says nearly 60 percent of the county's employees are being paid below the poverty level.

"They need the things that the county has to provide, and just like in their business, if they have something they can't afford to do they either don't do it or find a way they can,” said Harris.

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