A lot of you have received a Vote-by-Mail ballot concerning an initiative to expand the zone for the Tourism Development Tax District. This is only concerning what is often called the 5% "bed tax", paid by people staying overnight at lodging facilities in the district.
The tax was originally passed in 1989, but only for Mary Esther, Destin, Cinco Bayou and the southern portions of Fort Walton Beach were included. The proposal is to expand it to all of the county.
In recent years, the existing district has generated from $18 million to more than $23 million per year, and those funds mostly have been used to promote the area to tourists and to fund beach safety and beach improvements.
Currently, 62 out of Florida's 67 counties have this tax, and only Okaloosa and Bay don't apply it across the entire county.
In general, we recommend that voters do their research, but we feel that supporting the tax is beneficial for the citizens of Okaloosa County.
Only voters living in parts of the county that do not currently collect the bed tax will vote. This is a Vote by Mail only election, there will be no in person voting. Ballots must be returned to the Supervisor of Elections offices located at 302 N. Wilson Street, Crestview and 1250 Eglin Parkway Suite 103, Shalimar by Oct 5. You can request a ballot if you haven't received one at the Supervisor of Elections website HERE.
Below are some links to help with researching the proposal.
Here are instructions for filling out your envelope: