GULF BREEZE — With Santa Rosa’s increasing population and a potential budget decrease starting at $3.6 million due to a state bill, the county’s local option sales tax dollars are becoming more valuable.

The county estimates the LOST will bring in $40 million over the next five years. Commissioners on Thursday moved to spread these funds as follows: 27 percent for public safety, 2 percent for capital equipment, 4 percent for public facilities, 52 percent for transportation and drainage, and 10 percent for recreation and natural resources.

Discussion centered on whether to increase public safety spending. Of the 27 percent, $10.8 million going to public safety, the Santa Rosa Sheriff's Office would receive roughly $8 million, according to Santa Rosa County Administrator Tony Gomillion.

Commissioner Bob Cole suggested boosting the percentage to the 35. Commission Chairman Rob Williamson suggested going to 32 since proposed allocations left 5 percent unallocated.

The other commissioners were reluctant to change the numbers, saying they’re based on the current projects list.

As needs for the sheriff's office arise, the commission could grant it more money, Commissioner Lane Lynchard said.

“(Public safety spending) is at 27 percent now but that’s a starting point. If the sheriff comes to us with a project and we say it makes sense, we will supplant something on the list,” Lynchard said.