FREEPORT, Fla. (WMBB) — The Walton County Taxpayers Association has been vocal about their opposition to the proposed one-cent sales tax and during Tuesday’s county commission meeting they expressed why they disagree with the plan.
Walton County is growing and county commissioners said they need more money to keep up with that growth. They’re asking voters to approve a one-cent sales tax to be collected for the next 30 years. They said the money would go to infrastructure projects.
Many believe that means road construction and improvements, but Walton County Taxpayers Association President Jim Bagby wants assurances.
“We don’t know what they’re going to do with it because they say, well, it’s for infrastructure projects,” Bagby said. “Well, one of the biggest infrastructure projects they’ve done the last few years is the golf course up in DeFuniak Springs. We want to see roads, we want to see bridges, we want to see bandwidth and internet speeds throughout the county. We want to see those things, not golf courses or marinas or things like that.”
Bagby said his group is opposing the referendum for several reasons.
He said the county has refused to raise or implement the mobility fee, placing the burden on developers.
He’s also against collecting a tax for 30 years.
“There’s a lot of distrust for the county commissioners in this county, both among taxpayers, among voters. And so all the taxpayer association has asked is don’t make it for 30 years. You know, they were required by the state to do a state audit. That audit is horrible. They have problems running projects, managing projects, and finishing projects. And so all the people are asking for is show that you can do what you say you can do with the money that’s given to you,” Bagby said.
But Walton County Commissioner Danny Glidewell said the need is real.
While the county has $25 million in unrestricted reserves, Glidewell claims the county also has $44 million dollars worth of projects without enough funding.
He suggested a resolution to the board.
“To forgo bond financing for five years just as an agreement among the board and not to do any kind of financing until we take it back to the voters for further approval,” Glidewell said.
The referendum will be decided on the November 8 ballot.