2008 Okaloosa County Annual Report

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2008 Okaloosa County Annual Report Powered By Docstoc
Annual Report
         District 1        District 2
         Sherry Campbell   John Jannazo

                                                   Brackin Building
                                                   302 N. Wilson St.
         District 3        District 4
         Bill Roberts      Don Amunds             Crestview, FL 32536
         Vice Chairman

                                                      Water & Sewer
                                                 Administration Building
                                                 1804 Lewis Turner Blvd.
                                                  Fort Walton Beach, FL
         District 5        Commissioner
         James Campbell    Wayne Harris was            850-651-7105
         Chairman          elected to replace
                           Sherry Campbell in
                           District 1. Harris
                           joined the Board in
                           November 2008

Page 1
           Chairman                                        Arbennie Pritchett Water Reclamation Facility
                                                     (WRF) is ahead of schedule and under budget at this time,
                                                     saving you money. A huge project for our county that broke
                                                     ground in 2007, will be mostly done by April 2009 and is
                                                     slated to begin handling 75 percent of the county’s waste-
                                                     water by September. The WRF uses the latest technology.
                                                           The Judicial Annex Extension schematic design
                                                     was approved this year. The additional court facilities with
                                                     more handicap accessibility are quite simply, needed. The
                                                     design is smart, in that it provides for future expansion and
                                                     added courtrooms without jeopardizing safety. Additionally,
                                                     when it is occupied the Shalimar Annex can be renovated
                                                     which will provide for additional, non-judicial office space,
                                                     resulting in a reduction in county rental costs.
                                                           The Commission Chambers in Crestview were
              James Campbell                         updated with additional space. The overall renovation
                                                     completed by our Facilities Maintenance Dept. for under
                                                     $60,000 has much-improved technology and public
                                                     access. Also, the Brackin Building was renovated in order
                                                     to move non-judicial offices out of the Crestview

       t has been an exciting election year,
       and I would like to begin by thanking         Courthouse to allow judicial services more space. Both of
       everyone for their support and confi-         these projects utilized green building techniques with reuse
dence in my ability to continue serving as           of materials and a great savings.
your commissioner – it is an honor to serve.               Northwest Florida Regional Airport is the new
I also want to thank my fellow commission-           name of our commercial airport, and a $14.7 million proj-
ers and county staff for their support of me         ect is underway for the new rental car facility which should
this year as chairman. Thanks to the many            be complete by summer of 2009. Due to a sagging nation-
citizens who attended meetings and worked            al economy, a $32 million terminal expansion has been put
with us, as we all together maintain our             on hold. Bob Sikes Airport in Crestview has a great poten-
quality of life, while providing essential serv-     tial for growth and added jobs in the near future, due to its
ices and public safety.                              location and industrial complex.
      It is a good year when we get to the end             The Board of County Commissioners allocated $2 mil-
without any significant storms, as we still recov-   lion from budget cuts in other areas, to add to transporta-
er from the economic impacts of previous             tion and stormwater budgets for 2008-09, and approved
storms. I’d like to review other good things that    investigating additional funds from other sources, such as
happened or are in progress.                         bonding concurrently with the Judicial Annex Extension.
      Single Stream Recycling begins in                    The 911 Emergency Operation Center is underway
Okaloosa County! We, along with a com-               for its opening in 2010, and the School Board is collaborat-
mitment from Waste Management, are try-              ing with us on new schools which can double as shelters,
ing to make it easy to recycle. Recyclables          providing the required shelter space for our residents.
no longer have to be separated, and can be                 While as a nation we are struggling with economic
placed in your Waste Management Recycle              challenges, I feel very positive about the State of Florida
container and picked up curbside.                    and Okaloosa County. In a year that we have all “tightened
      Okaloosa County is going green in              our belts,” I hope you have taken advantage of the
many areas, and established a Sustainabil-           Okaloosa Saves program to assist you in this economy and
ity Committee for looking at ways to preserve        in the future. I wish everyone a prosperous New Year, and
assets, save energy and save money. Single           contact your Okaloosa County Commissioners anytime by
Stream Recycling doesn’t costs additional            calling 850-651-7105, and please visit our website for
money and our employees aim to serve you             updates and information.
better and do it for less.

                                                     Chairman James Campbell
                                                     Okaloosa County Commission

                                                                                                               Page 2

              hen I sat down to think about what words best
              describe 2008, the words that came to mind were
              less and more. Those were our buzz words here
   in the Okaloosa County offices. We had less money, less
   resources and less employees. Realtors were selling less
   homes. Less condominiums were being built. Car dealers
   reported less sales of both new and used cars and retailers
   reported less holiday sales. Yet, with all of this gloom and
   doom, we, as a county, managed to do more.
         We paved more roads by using cold mix asphalt. We
   saved more budget dollars by trimming our workforce. We
   provided more information by redesigning our web site. We          James Curry
   conserved more energy. We saved more lives. Quite sim-
   ply we did more with less. And, that is what your county
   government should do every single day.
         As you read through this year’s Annual Report I think
   you will find that it is full of accomplishments – some big,
   some small – but all done with you, the citizen, in mind.
         As you read the page on Budget/Financial Manage-
   ment, you’ll find that Okaloosa County’s overall budget for
   the coming year was cut by more than $10 million. Under
   the Transportation title, you’ll find how a $2.5 million TRIP
   grant will allow us to begin improvements on Antioch Road
   and P.J. Adams Parkway in Crestview. Under the Public
   Services title, you’ll read about the newly remodeled
   County Commission Chambers in the Okaloosa County
   Courthouse. Like I said, the accomplishments are many.
   Read through this report carefully and find out how
   Okaloosa County did more for you.
         In 2008 we said ‘goodbye’ to Commissioner Sherry
   Campbell and ‘hello’ to Commissioner Wayne Harris.
   Commissioner Campbell served the county well for 6 years
   and will be sorely missed. Sherry was appointed by Gov.
   Jeb Bush to complete the term of Commissioner Shirley
   Ransom. She was elected for a full term in 2004 and chose
   not to run for another term as commissioner in 2008.
   Commissioner Harris ran for her seat and was elected on
   Nov. 4, 2008. While I certainly will miss Commissioner
   Campbell I look forward to working with Commissioner
   Harris. I know he will serve the citizens of Okaloosa County

Page 3

                          idespread economic difficulties bring challenges,
Charlie Morris            but also opportunities.

                       While trying to do more with less, the Okaloosa Coun-
                 ty Sheriff's Office continues to streamline its services by
                 cutting away duplication and upgrading technology to boost
                       With the implementation of car reporting for example,
                 our deputies no longer have to drive to a substation to com-
                 plete their paperwork. They can now do it directly from their
                 cars, saving both wear and tear mileage, as well as gas
                       I'm proud that despite receiving an average of 476
                 calls for service a day, our deputies' response rates rank
                 among the best in the state. The average response time to
                 a priority one call such as a robbery or child abuse in
                 progress call is one minute, three seconds.
                       We are continuing our aggressive drug enforcement
                 efforts, making more than 1,300 drug arrests and seizing
                 more than a million dollars worth of drugs off the streets in
                 the past year.
                       We also are maintaining our reputation for having one
                 of Florida's most comprehensive crime prevention pro-
                 grams. In fact our agency earned the President's Award
                 from the Florida Crime Prevention Association for innova-
                 tive programs that address the safety needs of our children
                 and senior citizens.
                       This year, that includes offering the new Safe Assured
                 Digital I-D Kits for youngsters.
                       And finally, as the first Sheriff from Okaloosa County
                 ever selected as President of the Florida Sheriff's Associa-
                 tion, I have the opportunity to consult with my counterparts
                 across the state. Part of our mission is to continue to
                 explore new methods for boosting vital law enforcement
                 capabilities, without increasing the burden on taxpayers.

                                                                           Page 4
                                                                          Of Elections

            he Okaloosa County Supervisor of Elections Office
            is dedicated to serving the voters of Okaloosa
            County. Pat Hollarn has served as Supervisor of
   Elections since 1989 and 2009 will conclude 20 years of
          Hollarn’s tenure has been marked by many great mile-
   stones. In her twenty years of service Hollarn has been
   nationally recognized as an innovator in finding better solu-
   tions for Okaloosa County’s large overseas military and
   civilian population.
                                 Operation BRAVO (Bring                          Pat Hollarn
                            Remote Access to Voters Overseas)
                            Foundation announced the success-
                            ful completion of its first pilot project   A Message from Pat:
                            for overseas voters on November 10,
                            2008. The Foundation partnered with
                            the Supervisor of Elections of              I would like to take this
   Okaloosa County, Florida, and SCYTL Secure Electronic                opportunity to thank the
   Voting, to develop and field a groundbreaking electronic
                                                                        voters of Okaloosa County
   absentee voting system.
          The Okaloosa Distance Balloting Pilot (ODBP)                  for allowing me to serve as
   placed supervised voting kiosks in three overseas locations          your Supervisor of
   for the November General Election. Voters used touch-                Elections for the past twen-
   screen laptop computers to make their selections and
   could review a paper record of their choices before casting          ty years. It has been a true
   their vote. The voters                                               honor and indeed a pleas-
   reported the system also                                             ure to carry out the mis-
   was very easy for them to
                                                                        sion of this office. As I
          The Kids Vote, Too                                            transition, I will forever
   & Teens Vote, Too pro-                                               treasure the many friends I
   gram has been recognized                                             have made and relish on
   for its outstanding achieve-
   ments in both creative                                               the accomplishments
   excellence and public relations program development by               shared with my staff and
   the Election Center, the American Advertising Federation             this wonderful community.
   and the Southern Public Relations Federation. In 2008, it
   was successfully offered statewide as an officially licensed
   program. The Okaloosa County Supervisor of Elections                 Sincerely,
   office proudly partnered with the Okaloosa County Public
   Schools Foundation and all net profit made through the
   licensing of this franchise is deposited directly into an
   escrowed Foundation account earmarked for Kids Vote,
   Too. These funds are used to grow the Okaloosa County
   program which subsequently grows the offerings of the
   franchise as a whole.
Page 5
                                                       n these tough economic times, when government
                                                       entities are being scrutinized for increasing their
                                                       budgets and reducing services, the Okaloosa County
          Tax                                    Tax Collector’s Office has managed to do just the opposite.
                                                 With no budget increase, Tax Collector Chris Hughes
                                                 asked his office to tighten its belt and actually take on more
        Collector                                customer services. As a result, the office returned an
                                                 unprecedented nearly $1.5 million to Okaloosa County tax-
                                                 payers in excess commission fees. It is the largest amount
                                                 ever returned to the county.
                                                       The services provided by the Tax Collector’s Office
                                                 extend far beyond the walls of its facilities in Crestview, Ft.
                                                 Walton Beach, Niceville, Destin and on Eglin Air Force
                                                 Base. Utilizing the unique combination of modern technol-
                                                 ogy and personal one-on-one service, citizens have access
                                                 to the office while attending community events, from the
                                                 privacy of their home or even while stationed abroad pro-
                                                 tecting our freedom.
                                                       The Internet has made it possible for customers to
            Chris Hughes                         “pay on line, not in line” at www.okaloosatax.com. Citizens
                                                 can conduct business with the office 24 hours a day, seven
     State Level             Services            days a week at their convenience. A kiosk in Santa Rosa
Department of          • Motor vehicle reg-      Mall is also linked to the website as are laptop computers
Highway Safety and         istration & titling
Motor Vehicles             Mobile home regis-
                                                 used by employees while working in the field or set up at
                       •   tration & titling     special community functions. The website offers the ability
                           Disabled person       to pay current and delinquent real estate and tangible
                           parking placards
                           Vessel registration
                                                 taxes, renew and apply for a county business tax receipt,
                           & titling             purchase hunting and fishing licenses, and perform DMV
                       •   Limited Drivers       motor vehicle transactions. Valuable research materials,
                           License Services      up-to-date account information and links to other govern-
Fish & Wildlife       • Hunting & fishing        ment offices are also accessible on the web page. VISA,
Conservation            permits
Commission                                       MasterCard, Discover and American Express are accepted
Department of                                    forms of payment.
Environmental                                          The limited Drivers License services offered at the
Department of Natural                            Niceville and Destin branch offices continues to expand
Resources                                        and attract more customers. The offices issue original,
Department of         • Billing, collection &    duplicate and replacement licenses, perform license
Revenue                 distribution of taxes    renewal transactions and selected reinstatement proce-
     Local Level              Services           dures, provide all non-citizen services, issue Florida
Collection of Ad       • Real estate             Identification Cards and perform written driver’s exams and
Valorm taxes for 20    • Tangible personal       Motorcycle Knowledge Exams.
taxing authorities         property
                                                       The Tax Collector’s Office doesn’t stop at just extend-
Issuance of Business • Application, renew-       ing the basic services beyond its walls. The business of
Tax Receipts           al & enforcement          providing exceptional customer service is taken to a new
                                                 level because employees volunteer their time and effort to
                                                 make our community a better place to live. Assisting neigh-
                                                 bors is a true commitment of the office and is reflected
                                                 through its numerous fundraising efforts. The office once
                                                 again accepted the First Place award at the 2008
                                                 Okaloosa-Walton American Heart Walk raising $30,663.53.
                                                 The well known Annual Christmas Shoebox Campaign dis-
                                                 tributes 1,000’s of gifts to area children in need. The office
                                                 is also known for providing disaster relief assistance and
                                                 making contributions to the United Way.

                                                                                                             Page 6
            reparation of the January 1, 2008 property value roll
            was a new experience compared to years past.
            Since it is our office’s responsibility to interpret the
   market and equitably assess all properties based on mar-
   ket performance, we were operating in never-before-seen
   conditions. Exuberant buyers and sellers had driven val-
   ues to record highs beginning in 2004, but starting in mid-
   2006, the market turned south and is still looking for a bot-
   tom. Interpreting the moving target as of January 1, 2008,
   using 2007 sales data, was a challenge. Below is the result
   of the final taxable values for the various taxing authorities
   in Okaloosa County. As you can see, only two taxing
   authorities had an increase in taxable value over 2007, and
   most had significant decreases. These decreases resulted
   in a lot of belt-tightening at budget workshops. Since there                                    Pete Smith
   has been very little new construction coming on line year-
   to-date, and since sales prices have continued to decline in
   most areas, it appears that this assessment trend will con-
   tinue when the 2009 property value roll is certified.
   Hopefully, this trend will soon level out, reverse itself, and
   property values will once again start climbing, a necessity
   for economic recovery nationwide.

                                              2007-2008 GROWTH REPORT
                                                   TAXABLE VALUES
                                              2007 TAX ROLL           2008 TAX ROLL        PERCENTAGE OF      $ AMOUNT OF
                                              FINAL VALUES            FINAL VALUES            CHANGE             CHANGE
    OKALOOSA COUNTY                       $        18,806,840,352 $       17,410,630,993             -7.42%       ($1,396,209,359)
    OKALOOSA COUNTY SCHOOLS               $        18,858,931,778 $       18,410,992,070             -2.38%        ($447,939,708)
    NWF WATER MANAGEMENT                  $        18,858,931,778 $       17,455,934,652             -7.44%       ($1,402,997,126)
    MSTU - PARKS                          $         8,373,263,528 $        7,801,997,386             -6.82%        ($571,266,142)
    CINCO BAYOU                           $            62,762,817 $          64,916,808              3.43%             $2,153,991
    CRESTVIEW                             $         1,171,439,365 $        1,066,248,413             -8.98%        ($105,190,952)
    DESTIN                                $         6,125,851,582 $        5,631,525,229             -8.07%        ($494,326,353)
    FORT WALTON BEACH                     $         1,471,906,886 $        1,377,579,477             -6.41%         ($94,327,409)
    LAUREL HILL                           $           15,996,698 $           16,551,037              3.47%               $554,339
    MARY ESTHER                           $          358,014,214 $          325,381,253              -9.11%         ($32,632,961)
    NICEVILLE                             $          903,128,533 $          835,487,332              -7.49%         ($67,641,201)
    SHALIMAR                              $          108,024,716 $           97,422,052              -9.82%         ($10,602,664)
    VALPARAISO                            $          241,118,831 $          215,733,304             -10.53%         ($25,385,527)
    DESTIN FIRE DISTRICT                  $         7,118,717,168 $        6,687,086,972             -6.06%        ($431,630,196)
    EAST NICEVILLE FIRE DISTRICT          $           325,677,741 $         298,955,643              -8.21%         ($26,722,098)
    FLOROSA FIRE DISTRICT                 $           459,566,684 $         411,961,647             -10.36%         ($47,605,037)
    NORTH BAY FIRE DISTRICT               $         1,086,246,179 $         982,919,072              -9.51%        ($103,327,107)
    OCEAN CITY - WRIGHT FIRE DISTRICT     $         2,475,578,239 $        2,264,006,240             -8.55%        ($211,571,999)
    OKALOOSA ISLAND FIRE DISTRICT         $         1,238,859,684 $        1,134,115,035             -8.45%        ($104,744,649)

Page 7
                                                 A massive amount of information and functionality is
            Clerk of                             available on our office web-site such as:
                                                 • Credit card payment of traffic fines, child support
            Courts                                  and other court costs
                                                 • Court dockets to various cases
                                                 • Juror reporting status
                                                 • General information on all divisions of the Clerk’s
                                                 • On-line access to deed records, court records,
                                                    foreclosure and tax deed sales
                                                 • Interactive forms for Small Claims and Landlord
                                                    Tenant actions

                                                 Log on to the Okaloosa County Clerk of Circuit Court
                                                 web page at www.clerkofcourts.cc
               Don Howard

                                                Commissioners, has received the prestigious Certificate of

        he Office of the Clerk of Court is
                                                Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for 20
        comprised of approximately 110
                                                consecutive years. The Finance Department accounts for
        loyal, dedicated employees that
                                                an approximate $300,000,000 county budget, performs pre
are committed to providing competent
                                                and post audit functions for a 800 county employee bi-
and courteous public service. As your
                                                weekly payroll and 13,000 vendor payments per year, all
Clerk of Court, this office is charged with
                                                the while receiving excellent annual audits. As your County
many diverse and complicated functions.
                                                Treasurer, for the year ended 09-30-08, we were able to
An independent state survey into the
                                                earn $4,275,575 on investments of county funds, a net
duties of this office revealed that the clerk
                                                realized return on investment of 3.09%. These earnings
performs in excess of 1,000 different
                                                were realized during a difficult economic period of low
duties in carrying out our constitutional
                                                investment returns while safeguarding the public’s funds in
and statutory duties as Clerk to the
                                                AAA rated securities.
Circuit and County Courts; Clerk,
                                                      The Court Departments, in our role as Clerk to the
Accountant and Secretary to the Board of
                                                Courts, has seen large increases in case filings in many
County Commissioners and your County
                                                areas. The total number of new case filings in all divisions
                                                in 2007 was 75,193, an increase of 5.1% the last year
      The Office of the Clerk of Court has
                                                alone. In 2007 we issued 3,013 Marriage License and
been described as the public trustee,
                                                4,534 Passports. Our Domestic Relations Department
providing the citizens with separate,
                                                processed over 100,000 case payments representing
independent accountability of the public’s
                                                $5,180,184 paid to custodial parents.
various types of records. A major aspect
                                                      The Recording Department, in or role as County
of being the public’s trustee of records is
                                                Recorder, added 322,580 pages to the Official Records in
making those particular records readily
                                                2007 represented by 81,166 documents and 228,000 new
available. The Clerk’s Office is constant-
                                                names added to the Official Records Index. On-line access
ly adapting to constitutional and statutory
                                                to all Official Record books are now available back to 1956,
changes while embracing technological
                                                the date Official Record books began in Okaloosa County,
advancements that provide greater pub-
                                                with full protection of all private information as provide by
lic access while maintaining the individu-
als right to privacy.
                                                      Document imaging, in all areas of the Clerk’s Office,
      The County Finance Department, in
                                                continues to be enhanced to provide greater accessibility to
our role as Accountant, Auditor and
                                                your public records.
Treasurer to the Board of County

                                                                                                          Page 8
                      Budget/Financial Management
           ising property values in 2007, paired with inequities   budget year employees will receive no
           in the Save Our Homes amendment to the Florida          merit raises and were limited to a 2%
           Constitution created an unfair method of taxation in    cost of living allowance. For the second
   Okaloosa County. Because of this situation, tax reform was      year in a row, no new vehicles were pur-
   on everyone’s mind in 2008. With the passage of                 chased.
   Amendment 1, the people of Okaloosa County spoke loud                Okaloosa County’s Human Resources
                                           and clear to the        Department developed a Voluntary
                                           Board of County         Separation Program which allowed 25
                                           Commissioners.          people in the higher end of the pay scale
                                           The people wanted       to retire. This program resulted in the
                                           lower taxes!            elimination of these 25 positions with no
                                                 The Okaloosa      layoffs or terminations. A total of 49 posi-
                                           County Board of         tions were eliminated from Board of
                                           Commissioners           County Commissioners staffing.
                                           and county staff             While reducing staffing and other
                                           responded appro-        expenditures, Okaloosa County worked
                                           priately. Expenses      hard to maintain the level of service that
                                           were reduced and        our citizens demand. Staff continued to
                                           the overall budget      provide the highest level of service
                                           was cut by more         despite the diminishing tax dollars.
                                           than $10 million.            Okaloosa County’s budget staff
                                           The commissioners       works hard to provide concise and accu-
                                           reduced the millage     rate reports. To that end, Finance
                                           rate from last year’s   Director Gary Stanford and his staff have
                                           3.3443 mills to         received the prestigious Certificate of
                                           3.2995 mills. The       Achievement for Excellence in Financial
                                           Board also reduced      Reporting for 20 consecutive years.
                                           the unincorporated           Despite difficult financial times,
                                           parks millage rate      Okaloosa County remains in good finan-
                                           to 0.1800 mills.        cial shape. General Fund reserves are
                                                 With the slow-    strong, debts remain low and the Board
                                           down in the econo-      continues to keep a watchful eye on
                                           my in 2008, County      expenses.
                                           departments expe-
                                           rienced a reduction
                                           in revenues from
   other sources. The Board responded appropriately by
   reducing expenses for the coming year. In the 2008/2009

Page 9
                                     Economic Development

                                                 he military and tourism are two of the main econom-
                                                 ic engines that drive Okaloosa County. The Board
        Airport                                  of County Commissioners works hard to ensure
                                        that these mainstays of the economy have the support that
        Flying                          they need.
                                              To that end, Okaloosa County’s Tourist Development
         High                           Council worked tirelessly in 2008 to maintain tourism dur-
                                        ing difficult economic times. The TDC received 147,862
                                        requests for tourist information from magazine readers
                                        responding to advertisements and articles about the
                                        Emerald Coast. The Council also acquired a 12-page sec-
      Northwest Florida Regional        tion in Delta Sky Magazine on the Emerald Coast. This
Airport experienced many highs          magazine is read by an estimated 3.4 million readers. The
and lows in 2008. While the air-        TDC assisted 279 groups in coming to this area. The direct
line industry as a whole was            economic impact of these groups on Okaloosa County
                                        totaled $33,055,608.
held hostage by the troubled
                                              The Emerald Coast Conference Center had another
economy, Okaloosa County’s              successful year with 235 total events and a 75% occupan-
airport system did very well.           cy rate. The conference center was responsible for 62,000
      Construction progressed           visitor nights in area hotels and condos in 2008. The
on a $14 million expansion of           Conference Center generated $7.7 million in total visitor
                                        spending. That money contributes directly to Okaloosa
the airport’s landside amenities
                                        County’s economy.
consisting of a new rental car                As a part of its support of the military effort, Okaloosa
facility. Seven rental companies        County established a Veterans Service Office in 1945. In 2008,
will use a common fuel farm, car        Vet Services was instrumental in securing $5,310,924 in new
wash and servicing area begin-          and recurring revenue payments to VA beneficiaries in
                                        Okaloosa County. This compensation represents consumable
ning in May 2009. Improvements          income to veterans living in Okaloosa County and much of it
also include a cargo/mainte-            returns directly into the local economy.
nance facility. A customer facili-            The Tourist Development Council and the Florida
ty charge applied to car rentals        Department of Transportation fund the Okaloosa County
                                        Transit WAVE system on Okaloosa Island and in Destin.
provided project funding.
                                        This shuttle service reached 100,600 in ridership, ensuring
                                        that area tourists have a safe, comfortable means of local

                                                                                                   Page 10
            ransportation continues to be a major concern of

   the area.
            residents, as well as officials. Okaloosa County has
            taken steps this year to improve mobility throughout

        Okaloosa County’s Public Works Department
   acquired a Transportation Regional Incentive Program
   (TRIP) grant from the Florida Department of Transportation
   to work toward improvements to P.J. Adams Parkway and
   Antioch Road in Crestview. This $2.5 million grant will allow
   Public Works to perform a Project Development and
   Environment Study and begin intersection improvements at
   P.J. Adams and State Road 85. These improvements will
   begin early in 2009. Included with the improvements is the
   construction of additional turn lanes and raised medians
   designed to streamline traffic flow through the intersection.
   Efforts to procure further funding for further improvements
   are ongoing.
        Public Works’ Asphalt Crew overlaid 14 county roads
   this year. They have completed almost 7 miles of cold mix
   base stabilization and overlaid and
   repaired 1.7 miles of Hollywood
   Boulevard in Fort Walton Beach. To
   further improve safety at troublesome
   intersections, the Traffic Division of
   Public Works installed traffic cameras
   at Highway 98 and Santa Rosa
   Boulevard.; Highway 98 and the
   Emerald Coast Conference Center;
   and Mary Esther Cutoff and Beal
        The Bridge Crew improved
   transportation by converting three
   wooden bridges to concrete on
   Trawick Creek, Big Creek and Murder
        With the increased cost of fuel, Okaloosa County
   Transit focused on increasing its ridership to reduce the
   number of cars on the road. The WAVE system ridership
   numbers reached over 210,000 in 2008 – a 14% increase
   from 2007. The most notable ridership increase was found
   in the WAVE express route from Crestview to Fort Walton
   Beach. Ridership increased 92% from 2007.
        In 2008, Okaloosa County hosted a meeting on trans-
   portation challenges faced by the county due to BRAC imple-
   mentation. That meeting was attended by officials from
   Washington, Tallahassee and the military to name a few.

Page 11
         ver the past decade growth has
         been a continuing subject in
         Okaloosa County. In 2008, how-
ever, a downturn in the economy caused
growth and ways to stimulate it, particu-
larly in the housing market, to become
an entirely different topic of conversa-
      Okaloosa County’s Growth Man-
agement Division reduced its staff by ten
positions and cut operating costs dra-
matically. This included moving the bulk
of the operations to county-owned build-
ings in Crestview. Only a satellite office
remains in the Water & Sewer Admin-
istration Building.
      Despite this reduced growth, the
Planning Division of Growth Manage-
ment, processed 20 rezoning requests,
9 requests for plan amendments and 8
subdivision plats. The Planning Division
processed 23 variances, special excep-
tions and after-the-fact variances.
      The Building Division of Growth
Management conducted inspections on
major new projects including condomini-
um and apartment buildings. They com-
pleted 27,006 inspections throughout
the county and issued 7,260 building

                                                  Page 12
                                                                    Health & Safety

           afeguarding the health and safety of Okaloosa             bers are now trained to the national stan-
           County’s residents has always been a major focus of       dard and have the necessary equipment.
           the Board of County Commissioners. Okaloosa               Beach Safety also subscribes to a new
   County staff has worked hard to ensure that residents             beach conditions report which provides
   remain healthy and safe as they pursue their lives. Virtually     several types of information about
   every department contributes to this goal.                        beaches during red tide events; whether
         To ensure the safety of travelers along Highway 90          dead fish are present, where there is res-
   and Antioch Road, Okaloosa County’s Public Works                  piratory irritation among beachgoers and
   Department entered into a Joint Participation Agreement           what color the flags are flying at the
   with the Florida Department of Transportation. This project       beaches. Reports are updated at 10 a.m.
   will increase the existing turning area for vehicles east-        and 3 p.m. A beach web cam was also
   bound on Highway 90. The improved radius will make turn-          installed at the Beach Safety headquar-
   ing movements in the area more negotiable for vehicles            ters on Okaloosa Island. This technology
   making a right turn onto Antioch Road. Also included as           provides citizens a real-time view of the
   part of this agreement is the replacement of traffic signals      Boardwalk Beach, the beach warning
   to the new LED style of light, which is safer for drivers         flag color and the surf conditions. This
   because it is more visible in varying driving conditions.         web cam can be accessed at
         Mosquito populations remain a health hazard for this        www.co.okaloosa.fl.us
   area. Uncontrolled populations increase the chances of the              The Emergency Medical Services
   spread of diseases such as equine encephalitis. The               division of Public Safety acquired sever-
   Mosquito Control Division of the Public Works Department          al new tools that will ensure not only the
   reduces mosquito populations through a variety of meth-           health and safety of the patients they
   ods. In 2008, Mosquito Control responded to more than             transport, but also that of EMS person-
   680 customer service requests. Staff sprayed 7,982 miles          nel. EMS purchased electric powered
   using 1,848 gallons of BioMist spray. They also maintained        stretchers that can lift patients up to 700
   1,525 larviciding sites, which include holding ponds, ditch-      pounds with the push of a button. These
   es, stormwater management areas, junk yards, tire piles           stretchers allow safe patient handling
   and unmaintained swimming pools.                                  with reduced risk of back injury to
         Okaloosa County’s Public Safety Department’s pri-           employees. The stretchers were pur-
   mary mission is to protect the health and safety of local res-    chased with a state grant. Also pur-
   idents and visitors. With that mission in mind, the Beach         chased with a grant in 2008, were elec-
   Safety Division, embarked on several new programs in              tronic heart compression devices called
   2008. Okaloosa Beach Safety received a grant from the             AutoPulse. This device increases suc-
   state to upgrade response capabilities during flood and           cessful patient outcomes by at least
   swift water events. Along with the purchase of a rescue           25%.
   boat, other rescue equipment was updated. All team mem-

Page 13
                                               Emergency Planning

                                               Division of Public Safety also purchased an emergency

        lthough Okaloosa County has
        been spared from any devastat-         communications trailer. This trailer is capable of providing
        ing hurricanes since the active        rapid response to disaster-stricken areas and re-establish-
season of 2005, Emergency Planning             ing the communication that is vital to disaster response and
remains a high priority. In 2008, major        recovery.
steps were taken to better prepare                   Not only is emergency planning for our citizens impor-
Okaloosa County for a future hurricane         tant, helping our employees to prepare is essential as well.
or other potential disaster.                   To that end, the Human Resources Department worked with
     Okaloosa County broke ground in           Public Safety to create a disaster planning handbook for
2008 on a new Emergency Operations             employees. This handbook helps employees know what to
Center on the campus of Northwest              do and when to do it, so that they will be able to return to
Florida State College in Niceville. This       their positions quickly and aid the people of Okaloosa
new EOC will allow emergency staffs            County.
throughout the county to base their oper-            The Code Red Weather Warning System was initiated
ations in a safe, efficient site during cat-   in 2008 and made available to all residents and businesses.
astrophic events. It will also provide a       This system provides automated emergency weather warn-
permanent home for the County                  ings to residents in Okaloosa County whenever severe
Warning Point – home to 911 dispatch.          weather threatens. The system can call up to 1,000 phones
     The Emergency Management                  per minute.

                                                                                                       Page 14
                                      Environmental Protection
                                                                                  Recycling Proposal to establish

            rotecting paradise remains
            a priority for Okaloosa                                               a commercial recycling pro-
            County government. The                                                gram. The Recycling Division is
   Board and the entire staff realize                                             also supporting the Chamber’s
   what a unique environment                                                      efforts to conduct a Green
   Okaloosa County has and that it                                                Lodging Workshop for the
   must be protected. The Board of                                                hotel/motel industry. The Re-
   County Commissioners took sev-                                                 cycling Division also received a
   eral steps in 2008 that were                                                   grant to remove plastic from the
   designed to ensure that the air,                                               yard waste collected and to
   water and land that residents so                                               develop markets for the ground
   enjoy will be here for many years                                              material. Another grant allows
   to come.                                                                       the division to experiment with
         One of the big steps that the Board took in 2008 was         the use of latex and oil-based paint in a
   to create the Sustainable Okaloosa Committee. This com-            patented roof repair system, which allows
   mittee, headed up by Don Turner, Facilities Maintenance            for a low-cost environmentally friendly
   Director, has as its mission “to promote conservation and          method of disposing of waste paint.
   stewardship through education and demonstration among                    In an effort to reduce the silt from roads
   all departments of the County and within our communities.”         entering streams causing contamination of
         Within Okaloosa County offices themselves steps              the water, the Asphalt Crew, completed the
   were taken in 2008 to be good stewards of the environment          third of three stream crossing projects with a
   by reducing consumption of all utilities. Dozens of program-       grant from the USDA.
   mable thermostats, electric circuit timers for water heaters             Okaloosa County’s Extension Ser-
   and insulation blankets were installed. Steps were also            vices works with both youth and adults to
   taken to minimize energy leaks in County facilities.               educate them on the marine resources in
         The Public Works Department combined efforts of its          the area. This is achieved through pro-
   Engineering, Surveying, Road and Resources Divisions to            gramming efforts and educational hands-
   develop procedures that would help the county locate sources       on activities. Twenty-one of the county’s
   of pollution that are contaminating ground water. As a part of     youth participated in a coastal resources
   the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)        education program and 23 students have
   Permit, Public Works employees are locating, mapping and           participated in 6 months of training on
   placing in a data base all drainage infrastructures. With the      plant care, propagation and restoration.
   efforts of the survey crews, district road crews and inspectors,   Through the Commercial Horticulture
   there are now 1,568 structures included in the data base, this     program, Okaloosa County has been
   includes almost 95% of all structures under county mainte-         able to reduce the chemical introduction
   nance in the south end of the county. The focus is now shift-      to the environment by training landscape
   ing to the north end of the county.                                personnel in proper pesticide and fertiliz-
         Okaloosa County’s Recycling Division has partnered with      er use. More than 370 people participat-
   several local governments and agencies to improve recycling        ed in such programs through Extension
   in the area. The county partnered with the Greater Fort Walton     Services.
   Beach Chamber of Commerce to submit an Innovative
Page 15
         kaloosa County provides a Water & Sewer utility to
         the residents in unincorporated areas. To keep
         water flowing into homes and businesses and
waste flowing out of those same homes and businesses
requires a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week operation.
     CDM Constructors Inc. is more than 50% complete
with the new Arbennie Pritchett Wastewater Reclamation
Facility. It will replace the aging Garniers Plant with the
highest technology in wastewater treatment and a capacity
of 10 million gallons per day of average daily flow.
     In Summer 2008, Water & Sewer construction crews
completed construction of 18 Rapid Infiltration Basins,
which will receive the effluent from the new plant. By using
in-house forces, it is estimated that $4.5 million was saved
on the project.
     At the request of the Northwest Florida Water
Management District, Okaloosa County is now serving the
Seminole area east of Bluewater Bay. This expansion
includes 400 radio read water meters, 35 fire hydrants and
26,000 feet of water mains. The project has been designed,
permitted and construction is under way. This project was
possible through the use of in-house crews and a grant
from the Northwest Florida Water Management District.
     The Wastewater reclamation facility located on
Fairchild Road in Crestview is being expanded from
300,000 gallons per day to 1,000,000 gallons per day of
average daily flow. The upgraded plant will produce public
access reuse water irrigation. This project is designed and
permitted. Construction began in September 2008.
     In an effort to provide relief to wells facing saltwater
intrusion, in-house construction crews recently completed
laying 10,000 feet of 16” transmission main. This is the last
of a four-phase project designed to send supplemental
water to the county’s service area west on Highway 98.

                                                         Page 16
                                                  Culture & Recreation

                                                                 Transit partnered with the libraries to

             espite cuts in budgets for 2008, the Board of
             County Commissioners realized that culture and      provide free rides on the WAVE during
             recreation are important to Okaloosa County citi-   the month of September. Anyone pre-
   zens. With reduced budgets in mind, county departments        senting a library card received a free
   worked to improve recreational opportunities for all of its   ride. During the promotion, library cards
   citizens.                                                     were presented to drivers 4,060 times.
          The Resources Division of Public Works improved and          Providing activities for the County’s
   maintained parks throughout the county. Wilderness            youthful residents is vitally important as
   Landing Park was developed in conjunction with the            well. Okaloosa County’s Extension
   National Park Service and the Department of                   Services provides clubs and camps for
   Environmental Protection through a Land and Water             young people through its 4-H program.
   Conservation Fund Grant. Amenities at this new park,          In 2008, 4-H Club enrollment more than
   located west of Baker, include a boat ramp, a 240-foot long   doubled, bringing the number to 459.
   boardwalk, two covered pavilions and a 1.2 mile walking       During the summer, 151 youth participat-
   trail. Resources also completely renovated Seminole Park      ed in the Summer Camping Program.
   in east county. Those renovations included a new baseball     Overnight and day camps were both
   backstop, sidewalk and walking trail, covered picnic pavil-   offered. Money management, environ-
   ion, a new restroom/concession building and a composite       mental education, animal science and
   play structure. Other park improvements include a new roof    nutrition were taught to young people
   at Beasley Park on Okaloosa Island and a new composite        participating in these camps. A school
   play structure and covered picnic pavilion at Leo Norred      enrichment program, sponsored by 4-H,
   Park in Shalimar.                                             reached 2,286 youth in Okaloosa
          In an effort to increase use of the libraries within   County.
   Okaloosa County’s Library Cooperative, Okaloosa County

Page 17
            Public Services
         very large part of what the Board of County
         Commissioners and Okaloosa County’s staff does
         is to provide essential public services to the resi-
dents of this area.
      Okaloosa County’s Regional Airport System provides
for both commercial and private air traffic. In 2008, the
Board voted unanimously to change the Okaloosa
Regional Airport to the Northwest Florida Regional Airport.
This new name better identifies the airport’s geographic
location to out-of-state travelers.
      With forecasted peak airport activities in mind and with
the goal of attracting additional air carriers in the future, air-
port staff worked with architects to design a 3-to-4 gate
addition on the south end of the concourse. This design
also includes expanding east and west to accommodate
more ticket counters and another baggage carousel. Those
plans remain on hold for the near future.
      Boarding aircraft from Gates A1 and A2 became easi-
er in 2008 when two Moveable Airport Boarding Units were
installed to protect passengers from inclement weather.
These telescopic shelters keep passengers dry when tran-
sitioning from regional jets to the terminal.
      Okaloosa County Transit provides door-to-door trans-
portation service for eligible residents. This service is com-
monly referred to as paratransit. Okaloosa County provid-
ed more than 99,000 paratransit trips in 2008. More than
35% of those trips were provided to citizens going to their
place of employment. This service is largely funded by pri-
vate agencies. Many are eligible for assistance through
state and local grants.
      A part of the public service that Okaloosa County pro-
vides is easy access to all Board meetings and other coun-
ty functions. The staff of Okaloosa County’s Facility
Maintenance Department completed the renovation of the
Board of County Commissioners Chambers at the
Okaloosa County Courthouse in Crestview. The renovation
provides full ADA accessibility to Board meetings. In addi-
tion, four new restrooms were added to the main floor of
the courthouse. Modern audio-visual equipment was added
to provide easier and clearer viewing of presentations to
the Board by the public.
                                                              Page 18
   Prepared by the
   Okaloosa County
 Administrator’s Office

  1804 Lewis Turner Blvd.
          Suite 400
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547