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The simple fact is that a tax will place our businesses at a disadvantage and a toll will place an undue burden on the people who work everyday to provide services to Sowal. Either option will hurt more than it will help. What about using 1/2 cent of the tax for garbage service and applying that income to cover a bond issue for the amount? Does the math add up to support both? Just asking.
 

buster

Beach Fanatic
Feb 19, 2006
283
45
SoWal
331 Bridge Public Meeting 2/14/12

Residents will have another chance to weigh in on a possible sales tax increase to fund a second two-lane bridge over Choctawhatchee Bay.

Walton County commissioners agreed Tuesday to host a public hearing Feb. 14 on whether or not to hold a sales tax referendum to pay for the U.S. 331 bridge.
 

buster

Beach Fanatic
Feb 19, 2006
283
45
SoWal
Residents will have another chance to weigh in on a possible sales tax increase to fund a second two-lane bridge over Choctawhatchee Bay.

Walton County commissioners agreed Tuesday to host a public hearing Feb. 14 on whether or not to hold a sales tax referendum to pay for the U.S. 331 bridge.

If approved, voters would be asked in May whether they want an increase in the local sales tax to help fund the span.

In December, state Department of Transportation officials told commissioners they have $102 million set aside for the bridge if the county would agree to contribute $75 million, either through a toll or another mechanism.

Without a commitment for the local contribution, the DOT said it would redirect the funds to another part of the state.

State officials said they needed an answer by the end of May in order to keep the project in their five-year work plan.

After two heated public hearings, a task force recommended Tuesday that commissioners ask voters to approve a sales tax increase, which it determined would be less burdensome to Walton County residents.

The task force recommended that the board consider sales tax increase of up to 1 cent.

“We hope the BCC will give serious weight and consideration to values below the 1 cent,” their recommendation read.

The panel also asked that commissioners include language in the referendum stating that the tax increase be eliminated as soon as the debt on the bridge is paid.

Bill Imfeld, the county‘s finance director, estimated that at current bond and tax collection rates, the county could pay off the bridge in nine years with a 1 cent sales tax increase.

In 2010, residents paid about 43 percent of Walton County’s sales tax revenue, with tourists responsible for the rest, according to a study by the HAAS Center at the University of West Florida.

If the sales tax was increased by 1 cent, the average Walton County household would pay an additional $217 annually, the study found.

In contrast, a toll on the bridge, estimated at $3 per southbound car, would cost the daily commuter $750 a year.

The county’s sales tax rate is 7 cents on the dollar now. Bay and Okaloosa counties collect 6.5 cents and 6 cents, respectively.

Six cents is the state sales tax. In Walton County, additional sales tax collections are used for garbage fees.

Seven counties in Florida have sales tax rates higher than Walton. But if the local sales tax rate was raised to 8 cents on the dollar, it would have the highest in the state.

Dawn Moliterno, executive director of the Walton County Tourist Development Council, has been tapped to oversee the U.S. 331 issue.

She noted at the commissioners’ meeting Tuesday that widening the highway has been an issue for four decades.

“Although this came fast as far as this opportunity, we have been diligently working on this for decades,” she said.

Moliterno said the bridge is needed to help with evacuation rates in the county, which are the second slowest in the state. The bridge would also boost economic development, ease traffic congestion and improve safety.

Moliterno said state officials have said that funding for widening the rest of U.S. 331 hinges on building the second bridge.

She told commissioners the task force that held two public hearings on the bridge funding did not come up with any other alternatives.

BP grant funds and bed tax dollars cannot be used, she said.

A state law passed in 2010 allows counties to levy a sales tax increase of up to 1 cent to fund transportation projects. It must be approved by voters.

If voters do not approve the tax increase, county commissioners will have to vote whether to place a toll on the bridge or have the state redirect its money.

“They (the DOT) will not put a toll facility in a community that doesn’t want it,” Moliterno said.



Read more: http://www.nwfdailynews.com/articles/set-46944-hearing-tax.html#ixzz1kenZXSFq
 

Zebraspots

Beach Fanatic
May 15, 2008
840
247
Santa Rosa Beach
A letter to the editor recently suggested a toll or a tax with an exemption for locals - either by a sticker on their car or by showing ID.
 

Dawn

Beach Fanatic
Oct 16, 2008
923
369
By REID TUCKERThe Highway 331 Blue Ribbon Task Force voted unanimously to recommend a voter referendum to for a local sales tax increase, needed to raise $75 million for the construction of a new bridge across Choctawhatchee Bay.As reported in last week’s edition of this newspaper and in others, the task force held off on its recommendation at the group’s previous meeting on Thursday, Jan. 12. However, after another session of public comment and discussion among the five committee members on Jan. 19, it was concluded that the public should vote to decide whether or not to support a sales tax increase of up to 1 percent.

The task force recommended that the referendum contain language limiting the use of sales tax revenues to paying for the bridge and also that the tax, if approved, will irrevocably expire when the debt is paid, never to be extended. Furthermore, the task force was in favor of advising the County Commission to strongly consider tax increases of less than 1 percent should the referendum pass.Much discussion at the last meeting was centered around whether or not it was possible to include multiple options – for example, toll, tax (or how much of one) or no bridge at all – on a proposed referendum. However, legal review showed that state statute stipulates the exact language of the referendum include only a vote for or against a tax.

The other options would require further referendums, an action considered cost-prohibitive as well as possibly being incompatible with the timeline laid out by the Florida Department of Transportation.FDOT is set to begin construction of the shore to shore bridge in 2013 if Walton County comes up its share of the money, if not, DOT will take its money elsewhere.

Should the referendum, which required 120 days’ notice, fail to pass when put to the vote come May, the County Commissioners can still vote to support a state-run toll on the new span of the bridge, though projections from the Florida Department of Transportation show that a $2 or $3 toll would have to be in place for at least 30 years to foot the $75 million bill.

By contrast, County Finance Director Bill Imfeld’s data shows that a 1-percent local tax option could raise $12 million per year, which means a tax would take approximately 10 years to pay for Walton County’s contribution to the $177 million project.

Data provided by the county shows that 56 percent of a burden for sales tax hike would be borne by tourists and the rest by county residents.Compared to the last meeting, when public opinion was fairly divided among those in favor of a toll, those for a tax referendum and those against the bridge altogether, none who spoke at the most recent meeting favored a toll. Colby Anderson, who owns a small insulation company, said a toll would impede his ability to compete with rival businesses in Okaloosa and Bay counties which would not have to pay a southbound toll on the new bridge.

Anderson, among others at the meeting, was not entirely convinced that new bridge was necessary or even prudent given the financial situation the county finds itself in but nevertheless contended that, should a bridge be built, the cost should be shared by every resident of the county.“If we are going to do it, I think the county should have to pay the tax, not just a certain group of people who access this bridge every single day,” Anderson said. “I think it needs to be distributed equally throughout the county.

”DeFuniak Springs resident J.B. Hillard said FDOT had not done sufficient research upon which to base the information it provided to the BCC, which in turn handed the responsibility of approaching the public over to the Blue Ribbon Task Force. He called the whole process “ill-prepared for public consumption,” while others agreed the county should carefully examine the future consequences of either option.

However, as task force member Leigh Grantham said, it was the panel’s responsibility to “choose the lesser of the evils.” Grantham said a referendum was the only way to gauge the public’s opinion since, even with three workshops held throughout the county, the task force had only heard from a small number of those to be potentially impacted by the panel’s recommendation and the BCC’s ultimate decision.

Task force member Bonnie McQuiston made a motion for a referendum, which was quickly seconded. After the proposed language of the referendum was hammered out, the recommendation passed unanimously and swiftly.

Walton County Sheriff Mike Adkinson said he had supported a voter referendum before he was ever asked to join the committee and that opinion had not wavered throughout the proceedings of the past meetings. He said that it was the responsibility of the BCC to take the issue of funding the bridge before the voters since it would amount to going “beyond what the taxpayers provided.”

Adkinson contended that a referendum was the most equitable way for the people of the county to have a say in the matter.“Whether you support [a tax], a toll or no bridge at all, that decision should not be, in [my] opinion, be made by a committee and/or the Board of County Commissioners,” Adkinson said. “That decision should be put before the voters.“If we, as a county, decide that we do not want to pay a sales tax, then let us be prepared to live with it.”The task force was set to make its recommendation for a referendum at the BCC’s meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 24.

http://defuniakherald.com/?p=4741
 

Abby Prentiss

Beach Fanatic
May 17, 2007
571
119
The Walton BCC decided on January 24, 2012 to consider an ordinance calling for a referendum on an optional sales tax increase of up to 1%. The increase is to provide $75 million in matching funds for $102 million offered by FDOT.

The meeting is organized by a private citizen although it was originally considered for sponsorship by a political club and a newspaper announcement was published to that effect. Nonetheless, the meeting is non-partisan and all are invited to participate.

Purpose: Provide competent, correct information regarding bridge project details, financing options, potential economic impact and how the referendum will be conducted if an ordinance is adopted by the BOCC at their February 14th meeting.

On the Program:
  • Bill Imfeld, Walton County Finance Director.
  • Dawn Moliterno, Executive Director of Walton County Tourist Development Council.
  • Kitty Whitney, Executive Director of Walton Area Chamber of Commerce.
Date/Time: Thursday, February 9th at 6:00 PM.

Location: South Walton Utility Company Building (Grimaldi Room), 369 Miramar Beach Drive, Miramar Beach, FL 32550

Format: Mike Flynt, resident of Miramar Beach, will facilitate the meeting. The topics below will be named in order and the invited experts will briefly summarize the issues. Q&A will follow after each topic. The intent is to allow about 20 minutes for each topic in order to keep the meeting to an hour and a half.
  • Bridge Project/Referendum Process. Dawn Moliterno.
  • Financing options. Bill Imfeld
  • Potential economic impact. Kitty Whitney.

 

rocketman

Beach Comber
Jun 28, 2008
48
11
Misty:
The signs have the same logo as the post from Bob Hudson on 1/23/2012. Perhaps, he can help you with your endeavor to acquire signs. If Bob can't help, just leave a post and I will help with a phone number.

Rock on,
Rocketman
 

Gwen Break

Beach Fanatic
Aug 2, 2011
479
2
South Walton, near the bay
Informational Meeting To Be Held For 331 Bridge Funding, Feb. 9

A local resident, Mike Flynt, has put together an informational meeting of county and business representatives to provide information to the residents of Walton County about the proposed 331 bridge project and how it should be funded, by a toll or by tax.

Date/Time: Thursday, February 9th at 6:00 PM.

Location: South Walton Utility Company Building (Grimaldi Room), 369 Miramar Beach Drive, Miramar Beach, FL 32550

Format: Mike Flynt, resident of Miramar Beach, will facilitate the meeting. The topics below will be named in order and the invited experts will briefly summarize the issues. Q&A will follow after each topic. The intent is to allow about 20 minutes for each topic in order to keep the meeting to an hour and a half.


  • Bridge Project/Referendum Process. Dawn Moliterno,Executive Director of Walton County Tourist Development Council

  • Financing options. Bill Imfeld, Walton County Finance Director

  • Potential economic impact. Kitty Whitney, Executive Director of Walton Area Chamber of Commerce



Purpose: Provide competent, correct information regarding bridge project details, financing options, potential economic impact and how the referendum will be conducted if an ordinance is adopted by the BOCC at their February 14th meeting.

 

Abby Prentiss

Beach Fanatic
May 17, 2007
571
119
SWCC updtae:

This issue involves the building of a second bridge across the Bay and how to fund it. Public comment at the various meetings has suggested (1) do not fund the bridge with a sales tax or a toll-seek other funding sources, (2) fund via a toll or (3) fund with a dedicated sales tax up to 1% max. According to Dawn Moliterno, the current federal/state grant money is for a toll bridge. If the county doesn't want the toll it will have to come up with a 75 million dollar match. A toll bridge would be operated by the State and be under its authority.

At the county commission meeting on January, 24, 2011, the 331 Task Force made its recommendation. It recommended a referendum to increase the sales tax up to 1%. It was pointed out the increase would not pertain to certain items such as gas or groceries. It was indicated a .5 increase was the lowest sustainable option. The full cent increase would pay the debt in 10 years.

The county commissioners voted to hold a public hearing at its meeting on February 14, 2012 at 4 PM to consider an ordinance for a special election/referendum to be held on May 15, 2012.


There is also another public meeting on this issue this Thursday, February 9th at 6:00 PM at the South Walton Utility Company Building (Grimaldi Room), 369 Miramar Beach Drive, Miramar Beach, FL 32550
which is being sponsored by a concerned resident. (See SWCC Member Email of 2/4/12 for details)
 
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