MILTON, Fla. (WKRG) — There was heated debate Thursday at the Santa Rosa County commission meeting after Commissioner Kerry Smith proposed a half-cent sales tax increase.
“We’re going to have to get serious about our funding and where we’re going to get that funding if we’re going to start moving this county forward,” Smith said.
Voters already approved a half-cent sales tax in 2016. It was extended in 2020, and it will sunset in 2026.
Commissioner James Calkins said he doesn’t support any more taxes.
“You put that out there, about raising a tax, this whole audience is going to be filled but you come here right now out of nowhere…all I hear from you is tax, tax, tax,” Calkins said to Smith.
Commissioner Ray Eddington said he supports the tax if the revenue is used to fix roads and bridges.
“I do want the half-cent tax so everybody can pay,” Eddington said. “Tourists can pay but I want this tax money to go to certain things. To the roads, drainage, stuff like that, bridges.”
Commissioner Smith wants to see impact fees too which is a fee the county charges developers to pay for new infrastructure and the cost is often passed down to homebuyers.
Commissioner Sam Parker said that’s too much on top of high property taxes.
“I’m all for a sales tax because we have research that shows over 30 percent of it is paid by tourists, but if you’re going to talk to me about hey we need impact fees on top of a perpetual impact,” Parker said. “I mean let that sink in. Over twice as much that I’m paying as existing homes.”
The sales tax must be approved by voters. The commission will continue this discussion on Oct. 26.