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Okaloosa Co. Seeking Public Input on Budget Proposal

By: Press Release
By: Press Release

Okaloosa County Preliminary Budget
USAF wants Comments by July 29 on Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement

Since 2006, Okaloosa County has downsized from about 900 employees to slightly over 700 and cut over $20 million in taxes. Government needed to downsize according to new population levels and the economic downturn; however, this budget seeks to balance government with the needs of all our citizens. The proposed budget includes an increase in ad valorem. Okaloosa County is operating at below the 2005 property tax level and is behind on needed roof repairs to several buildings, as well as replacement vehicles and equipment, and new computers at the core of count operations.

The gas tax is requested in order to improve transportation and stormwater that has been long postponed and now risk the safety of our roads, our homes and our greatest asset-our waterways. While we will leverage RESTORE funds and other options to assist us in costly infrastructure improvements and enhancements, we must act now if we want to improve transportation and stormwater, before a catastrophic event occurs and have begun to occur, such as the recent Brooks Bridge incident, sinkholes, near flooding of homes in Fort Walton Beach and sewage spills.

It is our job to prioritize the needs of Okaloosa County. Public safety is the number one priority of residents according to the 2009 citizen survey. We welcome public input, have many challenges ahead and want to hear from you! Contact a commissioner or our Citizens Information Line online at www.okaloosafl.com. Budget workshops have begun, and will be available live and recorded at www.okaloosafl.com or direct link: http://okaloosacountyfl.iqm2.com/Citizens/Default.aspx.
FY2014 Budget Meeting Schedule:
July 15, 6:00 PM, Budget Reviews, Crestview
July 16, 8:30 AM, Board of County Commission Meeting, Fort Walton Beach
July 23, 1:00 PM, Budget Review, Fort Walton Beach
July 30, 8:30 AM, Budget Review, Fort Walton Beach
August 6, 8:30 AM, Board of County Commission Meeting, Crestview
August 6, 1:00 PM, Budget Review, Crestview Courthouse
August 8, 6:00 PM, Budget Review, Fort Walton Beach
August 20, 6:00 PM, Board of County Commission Meeting, Fort Walton Beach
September 5, 6:00 PM, Tentative Public Budget Hearing, Crestview
September 16, 6:00 PM, Final Public Budget Hearing, Fort Walton Beach

Okaloosa County Proposed budget at the July 15 Budget Workshop:2012-13Proposed 2013-14 (Approximate $52 tax increase on a median priced home) Millage3.28993.6249Advalorem Total$42,363,259$47,603,808Total Budget (includes fees, other tax revenue*)$257,175,311$278,988,961
*The additional funds that create the total budget, other than property taxes, include departments that fund themselves, collect fees for services or other taxes, which are designated dollars that in many cases, must be spent within the department they are collected. For example, Water and Sewer fees, Ambulance fees, Tourist Development bed taxes, gas taxes for transportation, and the list goes on. Another tax, the Municipal Services Taxing Unit (MSTU at 1.888), is for parks and can only be used to fund parks.

Around the County:
• Public Input is requested USAF by July 29, 2013 on the Revised Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS). For an Executive Summary follow this link to Eglin AFB Public Affairs
96 TW/PA
Attn: Mike Spaits
101 West D Ave.., Suite 238, EAFB, FL 32542

Recent rains have caused over a million dollars in damage throughout Okaloosa County. Please be patient while crews repair the damage and be careful on impacted roadways, especially in North Okaloosa. There are many construction projects going on throughout the county from water and sewer projects to public works and your patience is appreciated.

Discover Okaloosa County parks by geocaching! This recreational activity, using GPS is a fun, outdoor activity and a county "coin" prize will be available while in supply. Geocaching begins August 1, 2013, visit www.okaloosafl.com or geocaching.com for updates.

Okaloosa County has a new Airports Director to oversee its three airports: Bob Sikes Airport in Crestview, Destin Airport and Northwest Florida Regional Airport. Mr. Sunil Harmon was selected from 175 applicants and most recently worked as director of the Tallahassee International Airport. Harmon starts July 23.

Employee Spotlight: Security Manager Wes Fields, Emerald Coast Convention Center
The Doolittle Raiders have granted two very special individuals the honor of wearing the sacred Doolittle Raider's Crest. Wes Fields is one of the honored recipients. He has been a trusted escort of Doolittle Raider MSgt Ed Horton until he passed away. He frequently escorts other WWII Vets across the US and the world, such as Medal of Honor Recipent Col. Bud Day.He has been volunteer Security Director for the Doolittle "Tokyo" Raiders for 12 years and was instrumental in bringing the final reunion "home" to Eglin & FWB. "It's such an honor just to be around them," says Wes, a 24-year veteran of the USAF.

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