Dear editor,

Already at or near capacity and facing rapidly accelerating student enrollment, our Santa Rosa County school board must secure new revenue to build classrooms, buy land and build schools. 

Under the relentless drive of our county commissioners to bring in new developments, we’ve become the 12th fastest growing county in the state. By ignoring updating our infrastructure, the same commissioners have allowed our main north-south corridor roads to become badly congested every morning and evening, and many of our schools have become overcrowded. 

After a careful study and with the assistance of expert consultants, Superintendent Tim Wyrosdick and the entire SRC school board recently voted to ask the board of county commissioners (BOCC) to approve the use of modest school impact fees. If approved, these fees (paid over the life of a mortgage) would be added to the price of new homes and multi-family residences throughout the county, and the money can only be used to offset school capacity needs. 

The majority of the BOCC has already made it clear they side with the developers and builders and are adamantly opposed to any use of impact fees. When you understand that builders and developers represent the majority of contributors to the commissioner’s re-election campaigns, you know why the BOCC scheduled the meeting mid-week, mid-afternoon — They don’t want us there.

Currently, the only sources of school revenue are property taxes and the income from a sales tax. And it’s not enough.

Mr. Wyrosdick’s impact fee request puts the BOCC in a tough place; do they choose to say “no” to we residents and parents in order to keep the support of the builders and developers, or do they give in to political pressure (we’re the voters, right?) and say yes to our schools’ needs? 

We need to let them know we truly care!

You can bet the builders will once again bring in their contractors and workers to root for a no-impact-fee vote. So if you care about fighting against overcrowded roads and schools, you — and everyone you can bring — need to be there and support our schools’ request for impact fee approval.

This is the most important county meeting in decades. The commissioner’s decision will either improve our future, or leave us with increasing numbers of kids taking long bus rides every day.   

The commissioners are betting we won’t come out and support the schools on Wednesday, May 15 at 2 p.m.  So neighbor, please invest in our future — join with us and help prove them wrong! The meeting address is 6495 Caroline Street, Milton, 32570 on the south side of Highway 90 between Dogwood and Stewart, behind McDonald’s.

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