MILTON — Santa Rosa County commissioners plan to keep property taxes at the same rate of 6.0953 mills for the 11th straight year.
That means a family that owns a $200,000 home would pay $1,066 in property taxes in the 2020 fiscal year or about $6.10 per $1,000 in property value.
Don Salter, the commissioner for District 3 since 2000, told taxpayers they pay among the lowest tax rates in the state of Florida — the third lowest among 67 counties, in fact.
“People need to understand that,” Salter said.
Additionally, he pointed out that the five-member commission kept the county afloat, even after tax revenues plummeted when the recession began in 2007. They fell from $58.6 million to a low of $44.1 million in 2013. From then on it has steadily climbed and for the first time exceeded the 2007 level reaching $63.1 million.
Ad valorem taxes, the capital fund, gas and oil, half-cent sales tax and other governmental funds combine to create an operating budget of more than $178 million.
Santa Rosa plans to use the funding to increase the Sheriff’s Office deputies by 27 new posts and give its employees a $1 an hour raise at a cost of $5.3 million.
Additionally, it plans to create a medical examiner support fund for Okaloosa, Walton and Escambia counties, so they can control the expenses and pay.
The county also plans to add a Facilities Management Department from the general fund and hire a plans examiner for plumbing in the Inspection Department.
County employees will also see a $1 an hour raise as part of the second year of salary increases, which amount for a roughly 2.5% pay hike for about 85% of staff.
To generate more revenue, the commissioners have scheduled an Oct. 8 special election asking voters to approve another half-cent sales tax hike. It would raise the county’s sales tax to a penny, which would generate an estimated $16 million a year. The sales tax increase to 7.5 cents total would cost the median household about $70 a year and collect about 30% from visitors, county officials said.