PERDIDO KEY, Fla. (WKRG) — Perdido means “lost” in Spanish, and some people in the Perdido area of Escambia County are feeling lost, forgotten and underrepresented.
“I think it’s time we have a local voice and have local choices and a seat at the table,” Annie Griffin said.
In 2022, a group called “We Are Perdido” started looking into the prospect of municipal incorporation to create its own city.
“It’s a pretty high hurdle to form a new city in the state of Florida,” Joe Mazurkiewicz with BJM Consulting said.
In August, Mazurkiewicz presented to residents the results of a six-month feasibility study he conducted.
“Financially, the general government portion of it is feasible,” Mazurkiewicz said. “There’s enough transfer of dollars that are presently going to the county and other local cities in Escambia that would go to the new committee to pay for the cost of the local governance.”
The increased cost to Perdido residents for the town administration would be about $2.5 million. Mazurkiewicz said there would be no new taxes unless new services are added.
If a hurricane makes landfall or if the area is struck by a natural disaster within the first few years, it would be a tough recovery.
“The new city would start up and in the first six months, they don’t have a lot of reserves,” Mazurkiewicz said. “They borrow a million dollars to actually give them some reserves so a natural disaster early on would be problematic for a new city.”
While some welcome a new government that will be hyper-focused on this area, not everyone wants it.
“I can understand them saying it’s financially feasible, but I think a lot of us are drawn back to whether it’s financially responsible,” Jon-Michael Jones said.
The Perdido boundary would extend from Perdido Key north to Lillian Highway and east to Blue Angel Parkway, which is about 33 square miles.
Jones started an opposition group called “Stop Perdido City.”
“This is gonna affect a lot more than just the beach community,” Jones said.
He said the boundary includes a wide area of farmland and some of those farmers want it to remain unincorporated.
“A lot of our area is rural county,” Jones said. “A lot of people have… a farm, horses, etc. I don’t think a city quite reflects the values and the interests of everybody involved.”
The next step to create a city: The measure must get support from the Escambia County legislative delegation made up of state senators and representatives from this area. They will gather for a meeting in October.
If they favor the move, a bill could go in front of the Florida Legislature in early 2024.
“If it passes there and gets a signature at the governor’s desk, it all just comes back to here so that local residents decide,” We Are Perdido Chairman Steven Brendtro said.
That final step would require Perdido Key residents to vote on it in November 2024.