Ed. Note: News 13 has corrected the dates in this story about when the Northwest Transportation Corridor Authority was dissolved and when the commission adopted the referendum. We regret the error.
DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla. (WMBB) — Walton County’s Transportation Surtax Referendum would have been used to improve roads and infrastructure. It didn’t pass.
Voters defeated the one-cent sales tax last November and sales taxes remain at 7 percent instead of 8 percent.
In July 2021 the state dissolved the Northwest Transportation Corridor Authority which made Walton County ineligible to adopt the proposed tax.
In April 2022, however, the referendum was still adopted by the commission.
“I think Clay told it all tonight,” Walton County resident Suzanne Harris said. “I think his story was, which he said last time, and this time I thought we could get grandfathered in and I thought we could probably defend the lawsuit. Thinking you’re going to get grandfathered in and thinking you can defend a lawsuit. Is ridiculous.”
At Thursday night’s county commission meeting, County Attorney Clay Adkinson said he advised the commissioners based on his personal legal judgment and the advice he received from the state department of revenue.
Harris said it’s not the error in judgment residents are upset about.
“Had he told the citizens of Walton County, I don’t know if this is legal or not, but I think we can defend and I think that we can get grandfathered in,” Harris said. “We and that would be a whole different story. But to say we can pass this tax and have this county divide. People in the north didn’t want the tax economy to be horrible. It was an easy tax to bet. But had they just be honest, I think he would have gotten a better result.”
Neither Adkinson nor County Commission Chairman Danny Glidewell would comment on the issue.