Amendment would be great for county

Published 11:26 am Wednesday, October 29, 2014

By State Rep. Alan Baker

On Nov. 4, Escambia County citizens will have an opportunity to vote on a county-wide local amendment that, if approved, will have a significant impact on our future. As lead sponsor of this local legislation bill (Act 2013-259) that requires an affirmative vote of the Escambia County Citizens, I feel compelled to inform the public of what this referendum proposes for the benefit of Escambia County and its citizens.

This local amendment proposes to allow the Escambia County Commission the opportunity to borrow funds from the Escambia County Oil & Gas Severance Trust specifically for the purposes of economic development, roads and bridges, or capital improvements. In all of these purposes, the borrowed trust funds must be paid back with interest.

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In regards to the future known and/or the unknown needs that might quickly arise within our county, this local amendment proposes to allow the Escambia County Commission the authority to borrow funds from the strictly protected Escambia County Oil & Gas Severance Trust, but with specific guidelines on the loan purposes and the payback with interest. This local amendment does not allow the County Commission to borrow from the Oil & Gas Severance Trust for operational expenditures.

While securely protecting the Escambia County Oil & Gas Severance Trust and without raising taxes, the County Commission would have the financial option for funding specific qualified projects by lending money to itself, if the local amendment is approved. Based on the ever-changing economy and should the referendum be approved, the County Commission when faced with revenue needs for funding immediate or preparing for future needs could choose the best financial option for the County, either the open market or lend money to itself.

Approval of this local referendum would be a “win-win” for Escambia County and its citizens, especially for those interested in seeing Escambia County have a greater opportunity for securing more immediate funding for critical needs such as economic development, roads & bridges, and capital improvements projects.

For further details or questions regarding this local amendment that will be on the Nov. 4 ballot, please contact me (State Rep. Alan Baker), our County Administrator (Tony Sanks), or one of the five members of the Escambia County Commission. I do sincerely hope you will exercise your right to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 4.