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Okaloosa commissioner proposes tax increase to pay for aged stormwater systems
April's flooding pointed out the weakness of aging stormwater systems in our area. The pricey fix has been a challenge for local governments. An Okaloosa commissioner is proposing a one-cent sales tax to deal with the problem.
Laura Hussey "Keeping stormwater off our streets and out of our homes is complicated and expensive. It involves that word "infrastructure" that we hear so much. In Okaloosa County, many of the underground drainiage pipes are thirty, forty, even fifty years old"
These pipes that blew out during the flood are an example of what county leaders say is at least a fifty million dollar problem. And that price was estimated before the epic rain.
Tim Richey/Crestview "We took a pummeling here, it was amazing"
Tuesday, Commissioner Dave Parisot suggested a one-cent sales tax to pay for bringing the system up to date, with the money divided between the county and its cities. Another commissioner, Nathan Boyles, says the idea has promise.
Nathan Boyles "It spreads that burden more broadly. It provides that burden to some of the tourists that come through our community, and to everyone, not just the property owners"
Boyles says most important is that voters have the final say. A referendum would be needed to to approve a sales tax for a fixed number of years. With scenes like this still fresh in their minds, people we spoke to seemed willing to consider it.
Gerald Taylor/Crestview "We got to do whatever we got to do to take care of the community. So whatever's best for the community is what we need to do"
Lauren Barkley/FWB "I would agree with it, it sounds appropriate with all we went through, state of emergency"
Tim Richey "We got to pay to play. I'm willing to participate in helping everyone else"
Laura Hussey "Commissioners will have an in-depth discussion of a possible sales tax at their meeting on June 3."