It has been a great pleasure serving you, as Chairman of the Okaloosa County Commissioners. It has been a challenging, eventful year for all and I could not do my job as well without you – our community partners, county employees and our citizens. What do we do at this level of government; what have we accomplished this year and what is ahead in 2011?
Overall, the Board of County Commissioners provide services to meet the needs of essential services, public safety and quality of life. We have worked hard to improve our technology this year making our meetings accessible real-time at www.okaloosafl.com. Technology has also decreased employee travel (costs) with online meetings between north and south departments. Budgets and practically any information you seek can be accessed on our web site, as well as paying your water bill!
We made our budgets easier to understand with the new Performance Based Budgets (PBB) format. PBB will make us more efficient, while helping us accomplish goals and measurements for our 16 departments. We will continue to try to provide the needed level of services in Public Safety, Essential Services and Quality of Life for all of our citizens, at the lowest possible costs. Okaloosa County has embraced sustainability initiatives to consolidate services and decrease operation costs overall.
We realize that residents and businesses are going through tough times as well. The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill was a huge impact on our local economy; however, I remind everyone how extremely lucky we were compared to our neighbors. Tourism officials are working hard to increase visitors in 2011.
Other accomplishments include the long-awaited 911 Emergency Operations Center, which will have a Grand Opening in partnership with the Northwest Florida State College in early 2011. We are eliminating rent/office space costs not only by moving into the new EOC, but also Veterans Services’ recent move, and the new judicial center, with the Shalimar Annex renovation, will create a future savings of almost a million dollars annually in rent. Remember, most of the funding for the Okaloosa County Courthouse Annex Extension is from Judicial Improvement Funds that can only be used for judicial improvements, providing for a safer court facility for employees and the public!
Ahead in FY2011, stormwater and roads will continue to be improved. Our airports provide an essential economic impact, and increased marketing goals are producing the positive results you hear about with added flights, and airline companies, as well as new industry in Crestview.
Finally, we will continue to monitor this oil spill crisis and take advantage of opportunities; will welcome military in upcoming months to replace those recently lost; we are working toward a more diverse economy and according to economists, Florida will take the lead in bringing back prosperity in the U.S. I am still here in 2011, and working hard for you, our citizens. Thank you again for the honor of serving as your chairman.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
Chairman Wayne Harris