MILTON — The Santa Rosa County Board of County Commissioners unanimously moved to hold a public hearing regarding hours for alcohol sales in Santa Rosa County’s unincorporated areas north of the Yellow River.
The public hearing, unscheduled as of this writing, will likely occur during the second set of February board meetings. The Press Gazette will provide an update on the exact time and date when they become available.
Public comments on the issue during Thursday’s meeting focused on public safety, business revenue and fairness.
Chip Fox said he lost a 19-year-old friend to a drunk driver on a Sunday in a county without laws restricting alcohol sales. He said changing the rules in Santa Rosa County would put sheriff’s deputies in more harm’s way.
Michael Thomas brought the topic to the board with a letter requesting administrator Tony Gomillion add it to the agenda.
Additional tax revenue from new businesses taking advantage of a change in alcohol sales rules could go to the Santa Rosa Sheriff's Office, Thomas said.
“All this tax revenue right now is going to our neighbor to the west,” he said.
There’s proof of that, according to a spokesperson from one payment processing company.
Heartland Global can identify a credit card holder’s ZIP code in addition to where the cardholder uses the card, according to Stephen Sapp, its territory manager.
“Currently, in Escambia County, the amount of revenue for hospitality being spent outside of that county runs between 10 and 15 percent,” he said. “What’s Santa Rosa County? 40 percent.”