Turtle Center funds set for reinstatement

Santa Rosa County Commissioners July 9 released the remainder of a $165,000 allocation toward the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center, following Commissioner Rob Williamson’s June 11 suspension of the group’s county funding.

The reinstatement followed a July 3 apology issued by County Administrator Hunter Walker for county staff errors which resulted in financial issues related to the center’s three sources of county funding.

The board approved a budget amendment in the amount of $7,488 from general fund reserves for contingencies to “close out” its $165,000 financial commitment. Additionally, commissioners approved correction of an erroneous previous budget amendment.

However, the board stopped short of releasing all three of the center’s county funding allotments, upholding suspension of two allocations of county bed tax revenues until center representatives and county officials can ensure those funds will be appropriately expended per state statute requirements.

Navarre resident Yvonne Harper confronted Williamson at the meeting for posts he made about the matter on social media which she said “maligns” the center in a way that is “unprofessional.”

“I just have to go on record saying the way this has been handled has not been professional, and we could have got to this outcome without the acrimony that has been created,” she said. “What has been said is not consistent. What has been done is not consistently. So I think they were singled out.”

Williamson told Harper she was “entitled to that opinion.”

As seen in the July 16 edition of Navarre Press or subscribe online here.

Watch Monday’s turtle debate at the County Commissioner meeting here

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