GULF BREEZE — Santa Rosa County officials took its “Budget & Infrastructure” show to residents in the south end Tuesday and asked them to find solutions for the county's revenue shortfalls.

Officials admitted they cannot keep pace with Santa Rosa's rapid population growth, which has increased 15 percent since 2010. That outpaces the state of Florida at 10.8 percent.

It also surpasses the money the county collects from property taxes. The county’s total property value grew 8.4 percent this year, generating about $58 million in revenue. But that falls short of covering the Santa Rosa's total expenses for services.

County Administrator Dan Schebler pointed out the county has cut 111 government workers.

“It’s a revenue problem I’ve got,” Schebler said. “I’m just telling you the facts.”

A number of factors contribute to the problem, including the state's “Save Our Homes” law that limits local governments to raising property values by about 3 percent maximum annually.

Also, commissioners haven't approved a property tax hike since 2008. Property owners pay 6.0953 mils, or about $6.10 for every $1,000 of taxable property value.

The five-member County Commission plans to ask voters in August to raise the local sales tax to 1 cent, which would generate about $16 million a year to help pay for things residents say they want to maintain a high quality of life. The sales tax increase to 7.5 cents total would cost the median household about $70 a year, Schebler said.

Art Parrish, one of about 50 people who attended Tuesday's meeting at the Tiger Point Community Center, questioned why new growth wasn’t paying for itself.

“We’re getting slammed out here,” the Gulf Breeze resident said.

The county revealed it has $37 million in reserves but said it needs the money in case of a hurricane like the Category 5 Michael that leveled the Panama City area.

Still, Schebler said a number of options exist to increase revenue.

One that some of the people at the meeting latched on to was impact fees assessed on new homes. When the county assessed the fees from 2005 to 2009, it raised about $3.2 million annually.

But counties must prove the fees are needed, and it took 14 months before the state approved that revenue source for Santa Rosa County the first time.

Carmen Reynolds of Navarre jumped up in front of the group to support franchise fees.

“We’re chasing growth too fast,” Reynolds said.

Jennifer Waters also supported taxing new homes and businesses. She said the money is collected at the beginning of a residential or commercial project and helps pay for impacts to county roads and other services.

“It comes before homes are built,” Waters said. “It’s a cash-flow issue. It helps us keep pace.”

Meanwhile, Schebler said the county will need $280 million to pay for all its capital needs in the next 10-15 years.

“Every year we do a thorough scrub,” Schebler said. “We have to balance our budget every year, and that is a challenge sometimes.”

County Commissioner Dave Piech compared the budget process to having a fire hose sprayed on his head at full blast.

“We’re opening our books and trying to show everybody what is going on,” he said.