Santa Rosa residents won’t have to pay higher ad valorem taxes because they rejected the referendum to fund a new county courthouse in downtown Milton with a temporary sales tax increase.
Although some commissioners had indicated before the election that higher property taxes seemed the only alternative to building the $35 million courthouse, three of the board’s five members are firmly on record against such a levy in the wake of Tuesday’s election.
“It’s a moral issue. It’s just not fair to property owners to make them pay higher taxes for a courthouse,” said Sam Parker, newly elected commissioner for District 1. “Primarily the homeowners aren’t the ones using the courthouse,” Parker told the Navarre Press.
“The only way we should pay for a new courthouse is through a local option sales tax,” said District 3 Commissioner Don Salter. He recommended that the board revisit the issue in early 2017 and try to find a more widely acceptable location than downtown Milton.
The Milton location should be “out of the equation,” said District 2 Commissioner Bob Cole, who also supports asking the voters in a special referendum to back a location that’s more accessible countywide. “I won’t support an ad valorem tax for a courthouse,” Cole added.
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