Water utilities to gamble on more debt

Failing to set aside funds for emergencies has previously meant a financing scramble for the utility collective that provides water to south Santa Rosa, and now officials think they see a solution: take on about $4 million in long-term debt. Though perhaps unlikely at first glance, the strategy of Holley Navarre Water System and the […]

Sunshine scrutiny of tourist panel lingers

Sunshine scrutiny of tourist panel lingers

Even the most seemingly innocent phone call between two members of a volunteer group such as the Tourist Development Council can cause suspicion and trigger legal questions that last for months. Such a phone call in August from council member Jack Sanborn to panel colleague Kyle Holley apparently prompted a complaint from an undisclosed source […]

Dream of research center languishes

Dream of research center languishes

The planned 26,000-square-foot teaching lab at Gulf Islands National Seashore, announced with great fanfare in 2014, has stalled. “I don’t say it’s dead. It’s still out there,” National Seashore Superintendent Dan Brown said in a recent interview. The envisioned Research and Education Center was to be a joint endeavor of the National Park Service and […]

Legal-fee squabble roils Gulf Breeze

Legal-fee squabble roils Gulf Breeze

If William Shakespeare wrote today about the City of Gulf Breeze’s long-running legal fight in the so-called Catawba Street “Land Grab” case, he might well tweak his famous line in Henry VI thusly: “Let’s pay all the lawyers.” In fact, before anything else gets decided in a 30-year-old case that won’t die, opposing attorneys are […]

Santa Rosa voter rolls shrinking

Santa Rosa voter rolls shrinking

  Although Republican voters hold a 3-1 edge over Democrats in Santa Rosa, they lost some of that lead this year. In the biennial updating that state law requires county Elections Supervisor Tappie Villane to do in every odd-numbered year, her staff has moved 4,874 Republicans to “inactive” status, compared with 2,066 Democrats. The trend […]

More residents pay property taxes on time

More residents pay property taxes on time

In yet another sign of the area’s economic recovery, the number of Santa Rosa property tax delinquencies continues to fall. County records show that the percentage of property taxes collected after the annual March 31 delinquency deadline—when the levy for 2016 was due–fell to 5 percent this year. Read the full article in the Oct. […]

Jubilee land plans faintly rekindled

Jubilee land plans faintly rekindled

The Atlanta developer who last year stopped his partners’ proposed donation to Santa Rosa County of the 2,718-acre property known as Jubilee is still working behind the scenes to create a huge residential community there. Ronald Reeser met with several county officials in July, according to Shawn Ward, Santa Rosa’s interim planning and zoning director, […]

Planners try to steer clear of overlaps

Planners try to steer clear of overlaps

Jay Garner didn’t know when he was awarded a $120,000 contract earlier this month for economic consulting with Santa Rosa that on the same day another company won a separate county contract to plan for the Navarre area’s future. But having learned about Niceville-based Matrix Design Group’s assignment, and its contract for up to $150,000 […]

Downtown Gulf Breeze targeted by developers

Downtown Gulf Breeze targeted by developers

The commercial building boomlet underway in the City of Gulf Breeze is speeding up with plans being revealed for a fourth hotel and a third ice cream shop. No biggie by the standards of larger cities maybe, but the two proposed projects represent welcome growth and a tax base boost in this city of 5,800 […]

Lawyer questions Gulf Breeze legal fees

Lawyer questions Gulf Breeze legal fees

When an attorney starts worrying publicly about the looming legal fees of a case, you know it’s getting expensive. Renee Bookout, a City of Gulf Breeze council member and a lawyer, is pressing for better tracking of the expenses that are piling up in her municipality’s 20-year court fight to gain control of a 50-foot-wide […]

Educators wary of Scouts’ classroom pitches

Educators wary of Scouts’ classroom pitches

At first glance the “Patriotic Societies” bill that’s working its way through the Florida Legislature may seem wrapped in the American flag and no more contentious than Mom or apple pie. But House Bill 95, also known as the “Scouts Access” proposal, would mandate the right of paid Scout leaders—for both boys and girls—to make […]

Courthouse design will need update – and cash

Courthouse design will need update – and cash

Going back to the drawing board can be expensive. Now Santa Rosa officials are wondering if engineering plans for the proposed county courthouse on the newly purchased Avalon Boulevard site will cost anything like the roughly $475,000 already spent on such research for previously proposed locations that’s now at least partly obsolete. Read the full […]

County alerted to ‘extraordinary’ park makeover cost

County alerted to ‘extraordinary’ park makeover cost

Lee Majors, television’s “Six Million Dollar Man,” now has something of a financial kinship with Rob Williamson, the Santa Rosa County commissioner with a $6 million plan. Williamson intends to unveil the seven-figure fiscal details about the proposed overhaul of Navarre Park to his commission colleagues in their Sept. 14 meeting. The District 4 commissioner […]

Tourism council answers rebuke with an invitation

Tourism council answers rebuke with an invitation

Santa Rosa officials bristled at the recent scolding they received from House Speaker Richard Corcoran about the financial practices of the county’s Tourist Development Office. But they rejected a first impulse to fire off a terse letter to Corcoran—deciding instead to invite him here to prove the transparency with which the county handles its annual […]

Gulf Breeze Chamber looks for new home

Gulf Breeze Chamber looks for new home

Long a symbol of business growth on Highway 98 in the City of Gulf Breeze across from the Walmart Neighborhood Market, the Gulf Breeze Area Chamber of Commerce must start looking for a different location to make room for a new tenant. The chamber will become a real estate refugee partly because of its own […]

House Speaker scolds tourism office

House Speaker scolds tourism office

Santa Rosa officials have sidestepped the volunteer Tourist Development Council to revoke the county’s longtime membership in the state’s leisure industry marketing agency–Visit Florida–prompting a warning from state House Speaker Richard Corcoran. Corcoran described the move led by County Tourism Director Julie Morgan as a “futile attempt to shield financial information from public scrutiny” in […]

Law of motion causes Gulf Breeze traffic standstills

Law of motion causes Gulf Breeze traffic standstills

Sir Isaac Newton could have told you so: There would be consequences to tinkering with the timing of traffic lights in the City of Gulf Breeze in an effort to smooth vehicular flow on Highway 98. The 17th Century physicist unintentionally forecast the city’s newest challenge for motorists when he wrote his celebrated Third Law […]

County passed up economic planning grant

County passed up economic planning grant

Every year Santa Rosa officials apply for and win grants for hundreds of thousands of dollars from the state and federal governments, and they’re currently focused on gaining millions more as the county’s share of the BP oil spill settlement. So with a blizzard of grants available annually from various agencies, it probably isn’t surprising […]

Gulf Breeze’s golf course legal fees top $1 million

Gulf Breeze’s golf course legal fees top $1 million

The money-pit image of Tiger Point Golf Club is well known among taxpayers and officials in the City of Gulf Breeze, which owns the 375-acre property. But new details about the true depth of the financial hole dug at Tiger Point Golf have emerged in a Santa Rosa Circuit Court document filed earlier this month. […]

Gulf Breeze enacts medical marijuana sales ban

Gulf Breeze enacts medical marijuana sales ban

Any potential controversy about the new City of Gulf Breeze ordinance that prohibits medical marijuana sales outlets within the municipality’s borders ended with no one speaking up in a public hearing on the matter Monday night. Without opposition from residents, the City Council voted 5-0 for the ban to start immediately. “The City Council finds […]

Teachers’ pay raise limited by school board

Teachers’ pay raise limited by school board

Santa Rosa public school teachers will receive about half of the $3.3 million annual pay raise they have sought per a 5-0 vote by the school board that limited their increase Thursday night. School Superintendent Tim Wyrosdick, who had a victory statement prepared in advance, seemed to anticipate the board vote that supported his position […]

Eight new employers wooed by Santa Rosa

Eight new employers wooed by Santa Rosa

From a 500-employee gun manufacturing plant to a 300-worker distribution center, Santa Rosa County is seeking to attract a diverse list of potential employers to its three industrial parks or other locations. But Economic Development Director Shannon Ogletree said on Thursday that his efforts are hampered by a lack of financial incentives, starting at the […]

County ready to pay again for economic advice

County ready to pay again for economic advice

The County Commission’s recent proposal to pay up to $120,000 for an economic development strategy devised by a private consultant seems to ignore that it paid $25,000 for such a plan in 2013. In fact, three current commissioners and Santa Rosa Economic Development Director Shannon Ogletree are listed in the report by California-based Chabin Concepts […]

Gulf Breeze nears medical marijuana sales ban

Gulf Breeze nears medical marijuana sales ban

The impending City of Gulf Breeze ordinance that prohibits medical marijuana sales outlets within the municipality’s borders leaves no room for misinterpretation—starting with its first words: “Ban imposed.” Written by the city’s paid staff at the direction of the elected City Council, the new law is tentatively slated to go into effect in mid-to-late August […]

Businessman accepts $850,000 offer for courthouse site

Businessman accepts $850,000 offer for courthouse site

Pensacola businessman Jerry Long didn’t waste time in accepting Santa Rosa’s $850,000 offer for his 19 acres on Avalon Boulevard as the prospective site of the new county courthouse. Long accepted the offer within days after the commission voted to make it last week, according to County Administrator Tony Gomillion. If the 75-day due diligence […]

Last call for first responder

Last call for first responder

The bright red paint still shines, and the siren can scream as loudly as ever, but the hulking firetruck that started a proud career in 1986 in the City of Gulf Breeze is now relegated to the auction block. Finding a new home for the 20-ton Pierce Lance pumper isn’t easy. Since posting a national […]

Medical marijuana in Gulf Breeze squeeze

Medical marijuana in Gulf Breeze squeeze

The message from Gulf Breeze City Council to medical marijuana dispensaries: This town isn’t big enough for both of us. Despite the 70 percent statewide voter approval of the expanded sale of a non-euphoric form of the drug in November, the five-member Gulf Breeze panel is balking at allowing sales in this beachy community of […]

Pace flood control elbows past Navarre

Pace flood control elbows past Navarre

County officials revealed this week that they have moved the start of five flood control projects in the Pace/Pea Ridge area ahead of stormwater containment in Navarre. The roughly $10 million in retention ponds, drainage and other infrastructure for which the county is seeking federal funds in the Pace/Pea Ridge area contrast sharply with those […]

New sales pitch needed for latest courthouse location

New sales pitch needed for latest courthouse location

When the proposed location for a new county courthouse was rejected by voters last year, it failed despite a core of support from downtown Milton and unanimity among the Santa Rosa commissioners who proposed it. The latest prospective site has neither. “I’m disappointed,” Milton City Council Member Alan Lowery told this newspaper Thursday after a […]

Feuding pier partners make peace and plans

Feuding pier partners make peace and plans

Before the partners in Coastal Concessions LLC began a legal war with each other in February, their lease from the county to run the Navarre Beach Pier seemed like a license to mint money. But the dueling lawsuits between Stephanie Maddox and Scott Rayner have now been settled and the roughly $2 million-a-year business that […]

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