Laurel Hill Residents Decide Fate of Their City

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With a population of a little more than five hundred people, Laurel Hill is having trouble making ends meet. City officials say past spending and aging infrastructure have left the city in debt.

"Well for some time the city has been battling financial problems because of borrowed money thinking there would be a new development in town and they went in debt to the tune of two hundred thousand dollars to establish a building department" said resident Harold Jones.

The city has been repaying that debt for almost forty years. More businesses would help increase city revenue to make improvements, but no one sees that happening anytime soon.

"You can't get people to come up here. People don't want to move to laurel hill to live in a subdivision. They want to come up here and buy a few acres where they can buy a horse or something like that and we just want it to be this bucolic life that we have up here that's slow and easy" said Jones.

And that's left council members with few options.

"The only alternative that I see is for the city to be dissolved and go back to the county government" said Jones.

Jones says dissolving the city will not affect the lifestyles of residents.

"It won't impact my life in any way other than I’ll be paying my franchise fee, my power bill and my telephone bill" said Jones.

In fact, some residents say dissolving will keep them from paying dual taxes to the city and the county.
"Well I prefer it, I would like it very much because it seems we are paying taxes in both places and my property line is right here on the county" said resident Joel Weekley.

Both jones and Weekley also see other advantages.

"We would get immediate attention to dangerous conditions of the roads" said Jones.

Council members will hold another meeting December eleventh to further discuss the advantages and disadvantages of becoming part of unincorporated Okaloosa County. The election to decide the city's fate will take place in March.

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