Dear Editor,

 Next week, October 8th, we will vote for or against the 1 cent sales tax.  The home builders and wholesale distributors, in Escambia County have donated funds, to urge SRC voters to pass the 1 Cent sales tax. In fact they are spending thousands of dollars on signs and advertising to convince us we need to pass this sales tax. Why are these people so interested in the  business of Santa Rosa County?

If they are interested in the future of Santa Rosa County, like some say they are, then why do these same builders buy their supplies out side Santa Rosa County and pay taxes in other counties.  Some of the supplies even come from Mobile, AL. In their ads they list items where they say the monies raised, by the tax, will be spent.  However, Just because the projects are listed on the voting ads, doesn't mean the projects will ever be completed.  The commissioners are not bound by the advertisements.

They can spend it on other projects and can barrow money against it . Unlike impact fees that must be used for the reason they were passed, example: monies passed for schools must be given to the school board. Same for law enforcement and so on.  I agree we need this tax  money to get us passed the mess our commissioners have gotten us in.   The builders are asking for so many building permits that the county employees can not keep up with the demand, so many, that the county commissioners want to farm out the permitting process so the builders can build even faster. The county commissioners are doing everything they can to protect these builders from impact fees, the same builders that donated thousands of dollars to get these commissioners elected.

The home builders only need a few more years to build out Santa Rosa County, then they will be gone leaving us with the problems they made. These builders are fighting Impact Fees with all their mite and are willing to spend thousands of dollars to prevent the enactment of  Impact Fees because they have to pay the fee for every house they want to build, before they can get a permit. They say the impact fees will increase the price of the houses and  prevent young people and the elderly from being able to afford to move to SRC. They want to build a lot of low cost housing. There is a subdivision planned for Woodbine Road in Pace where  726 homes will be built on lot sizes of  40', 50', and 70' wide. Seems like pretty small lots to me. Our cost of living in SRC, is what it cost to live here. I do not apologize for that. With 726 homes being built, and every home having 2 cars now days, that will put 1452 more cars on Woodbine Rd every morning.

The average number of kids per family in Florida is 2 kids. If only half the new homes have 2 kids, that would leave 726 kids needing a school room, a teacher and a bus. What will happen to our quality of  life and our property values, when the schools are over crowed, we have too few fire fighters,  too few law enforcement personnel, traffic problems, flooding and so on? Then, who would want to move here?

The county commissioners are paying $200,000 to hold this election on October 8th of this year. They could have held it for free next year, however there was a problem with next year. The state has passed a law that says “starting in January of 2020,  60% of the voters must vote yes for a sales tax to pass”,  not the normal 51%, So, lets slip it in this year under the old rules.  The other reason is that the ½ cent sales tax we approved , a few years back, expires in December of this year. It is easier to advertise a new ½ cent sales tax and just extend the old ½ cent sales tax than to ask for 1 cent to start the tax over again next year.  They have since started advertising 1 Cent. This new tax is for 10 years.   Have you noticed that your property taxes are also going up for 2020? Also, the Pace Fire department wants to add $1.48 per thousand tax on the appraised value of your home.

In my opinion, we should vote NO to new taxes. We should then INSIST that our county commissioners start a process to enact Impact Fees. If they got busy today, they could have a written commitment, to the people of Santa Rosa County, stating that they will pass and will enforce Impact Fees that will cover the true impact of these new subdivisions in our county and they will do this as soon as possible with the only delay acceptable would be at the state level. They would still have time to put the sales tax vote back on next years ballot.  If we could get this commitment from the commissioners, I would vote yes for the tax next year.  It is only fair that the builders, who are profiting and the people moving into these new homes help pay for the new schools, teachers, buses, law enforcement, fire protection, roads and flood control that the new subdivisions will require. We need both Impact Fees for the future problems and the sales tax for the problems that building new homes have already caused.

VOTE NO on October 8. Just my opinion!

Gene Casey