For the first time in his nearly 20-year tenure, Santa Rosa County Administrator Hunter Walker has suggested raising property taxes. Commissioners are also exploring other possible tax hikes to offset a projected $2.8 million budget shortfall.
The county hosted two July 21 budget workshops, leading up to approval of the 2015-16 budget, which is projected to increase to $110 million, a $5.7 million increase over last year’s total budget.
Walker proposed a millage rate increase from 6.0953 to 6.4911, and the board this afternoon could vote to advertise a property tax increase, a move which must be made prior to August 4.
Santa Rosa County Tea Party leader Sharon Witt asked the board why 53 percent of the county’s revenue is generated from property owners — a rate she said is twice the state average of 26 percent.
Commission Chairman Don Salter expressed support for examining other tax options which could “take the pressure off the property owners.”
During the course of the budgeting process, leading up to the Oct. 1 start of the new fiscal year, the board is expected to probe alternatives such as increasing the local option gas tax and service fees or asking voters in to support an increased local option sales tax.
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