Today, Okaloosa County GOP Chair, and State House District 4 Conservative Candidate, Jeff Hinkle announced his first bill submitted as our next Representative would be to eliminate the costly, wasteful and double taxing toll on the Mid-Bay Bridge and Spence Pkwy. Hinkle, who has made it his mission to root out waste in government, will begin work on his plan to eliminate the toll immediately.
"Taxpayers pay too much and this toll is just another example. Why should hard-working residents get double taxed to cross a bridge which has already collected enough revenue to pay for its construction," Hinkle asked. "What we need and deserve is an efficient government. The administrative costs of the bridge are, in and of themselves, way too costly," Hinkle concluded.
In Okaloosa County, residents have been double-taxed by the toll for years and paid the price for mismanagement, poor investment decisions and risky finance schemes by the Mid-Bay Bridge Board. The debt these politicians have accumulated is $280 million all the while taxing citizens to the tune of $28 million per year.
Since the opening of the bridge, $300 million in tolls have been collected, more than enough to pay for the construction, expansion, and interest if the project were managed correctly. Walton County on the other just opened a bridge that competes with the Mid-Bay Bridge and got the FDOT to fund half of it. The other half (which ended up only being approximately 25% due to construction savings) they paid for in 1-year with an optional sales tax and they will be out of debt and the state handling the bridge. Pensacola recently received a new bridge span over the bay at the cost of $400 million that was funded and is maintained by FDOT.
Hinkle conducted an in-depth review of the Bridge Authority's audited financial statements as well as the recent consultant's reports on the operations of the Authority and was stunned at what he found which he has summarized in layman's terms in a short 2-page summary document that all Okaloosa residents should know.
"The average resident is dealing daily with life and doesn't have the time or many times the financial accounting skills to understand these audit reports. We must break it down in easy to understand language that people can quickly digest and come to a conclusion versus presenting them with obscure posts on websites that are 30 pages in length and difficult at best to understand," Hinkle said.