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Article: Meeting indicates continued interest in a city south of the bay

Rosemary Beach – About 150 people were in attendance at Rosemary Beach Town Hall on Aug. 23 for an update on efforts by the volunteer group A Better South Walton (ABSW) toward providing residents south of the bay with an option for a city government.

Several members of the volunteer group addressed attendees, took input and answered questions.

ABSW President David Pleat encouraged citizens to sign petitions in favor of residents having a vote on the creation of a new municipality in the area south of the bay.

Pleat discussed a charter summary recently completed through the group’s efforts. The document details the structure and other aspects of the government of the incorporated area. As part of the charter summary, a name for the municipality has been selected, the Town of South Walton, Florida.

Pleat revealed that, per the charter summary, the town government would be in the council-manager form with seven council member seats filled by people residing south of the bay. A mayor would be elected at large as the Seat 1 council member.

Three additional council seats would be elected at large, and three would be elected from within the town’s three districts. Districts would include Miramar Beach and Santa Rosa Beach, with the third district being a combination of Point Washington and Rosemary Beach minus Bunker Island.

Continue reading at the Defuniak Herald website.

Article: South Walton group moves forward with effort to incorporate

The group A Better South Walton continues to march forward in its quest to bring incorporation to the southern part of the county.

Roughly 150 people attended Tuesday night’s informational town hall meeting at Rosemary Beach Town Hall that saw a full house and standing room-only crowd.

“Why are we doing this?” ABSW President David Pleat asked rhetorically. “We are passionate about where we live. And if left on its current course, we will lose what makes it special.”

The group made the point that the population of South Walton has doubled in the last 20 years, going from a very rural community to more urban.

“As such, all the communities deserve a municipal form of government to solve their problems,” said ABSW vice president Dave Rauschkolb. “We are one of the largest counties in the state with a population of 63,000.”

The proposed municipality will have 75 square miles and a population of 24,000 from county line to county line.

Click to continue reading on nwfdailynews.com.

Article: Could South Walton become its own municipality?

A Better South Walton is taking its case for incorporation to the people.

Armed with a 23-page feasibility study and a summary of what a municipal charter might look like, the advocacy group embarks this week on a mission to sell cityhood to Walton County residents living between Choctawhatchee Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

“I believe so intensely, in my soul, that this is right. I’m willing to talk to anyone for as long as it takes,” said Dave Rauschkolb, vice president of the eight-member committee spearheading the drive to incorporate.

A Better South Walton has scheduled public hearings for 5:30 p.m., Tuesday at the Rosemary Beach Town Hall and 5:30 p.m., Thursday at 560 Grand Boulevard, Suite 101, in Miramar Beach.

Speakers will have some intriguing highlights to hit.

One of the biggest, Rauschkolb said, is a Florida League of Cities opinion that a city of South Walton would be, on the day of its birth, the most fiscally sound municipality in the state.

Another is that city planners believe the new government can get by, at least in the short term, without assessing new property taxes.

Continue to Northwest Florida Daily News to read more.

A Better South Walton Announces Town Hall Meetings to Discuss Charter Summary

AUGUST 9, 2016 — A Better South Walton (ABSW), a volunteer organization dedicated to seeking more effective governance and local representation for South Walton, is holding two town hall meetings to discuss the recently released charter summary and its impact on the proposed municipality of South Walton. These meetings will give the community the chance to get the information about the ABSW initiative, ask questions and voice their concerns.

The topics covered at the town hall meetings, free and open to the public, will include the charter summary and its framework for the proposed municipality, updates to the feasibility study and the results of a recent survey on naming conventions for the proposed municipality of South Walton. Each meeting will discuss the concerns for the future of South Walton and how the benefits of incorporation address those concerns. The process for incorporation will also be explained.

“The charter summary details how the municipal government will be structured and function,” states David Pleat, president of A Better South Walton. “With the community’s feedback, we will incorporate those ideas and suggestions into a final charter summary that will define South Walton. It has never been more important to have the community to join us for our town hall meetings, we want to hear what you have to say.”

The meetings will be held:

Tuesday, August 23rd at 5:30 PM
Rosemary Beach Town Hall
S. Barrett Square
Rosemary Beach, FL

Thursday, August 25th at 5:30 PM
560 Grand Boulevard, Suite 101
Miramar Beach, FL
(Across from Grand Park and Cantina Laredo)

The completed charter summary can now be found on the ABSW website.

For more information on ABSW and how you can get involved by signing the petition, volunteering, or making a donation, please visit A Better South Walton or email ABSW.

About A Better South Walton:

A Better South Walton (ABSW) is made up of a diverse group of citizen volunteers who share a concern about the future of South Walton. The mission of ABSW is to seek more effective governance and local representation for South Walton to preserve and enhance its unique
character, property values and quality of life.

The focus of ABSW is thoughtful analysis and discussion regarding ideas for more effective local governance and therefore, the future of South Walton. ABSW will also work to encourage the citizens of South Walton to weigh in formally and have a say in determining how South
Walton will be managed going forward.

A Better South Walton Completes Charter Summary

JULY 26, 2016 – A Better South Walton (ABSW) is proud to announce the charter summary for the proposed incorporation of South Walton is now complete.

The process of incorporation is detailed, collaborative and orderly. When a community wants to incorporate, a charter is drafted that details how the municipal government will be structured and function. The charter is part of a local bill presented to the Florida state
legislature for approval and then signed by the governor. Local bills are special legislative acts directed at specific locales. For South Walton, the decision to incorporate would then be put to a referendum of all South Walton voters.

This charter summary is the framework for what will later become the final charter. The final charter will incorporate the charter summary and input received from the South Walton community and the consultants engaged by ABSW. Once complete, the final charter, along with the feasibility study, will be presented to our State Representative in early September 2016.

With the charter summary now complete, public meetings will be held to inform the South Walton community of the key charter provisions and ask for their feedback and suggestions regarding the final version of the charter.

Having recently released a survey asking South Walton residents for their opinion on a possible municipality name for the area being considered for incorporation, ABSW is eager to get the survey results and consider the public’s feedback on the name in the final version of the charter.

The completed charter summary can now be found on the ABSW website.

For more information on ABSW and how you can get involved by signing the petition, volunteering, or making a donation, please visit A Better South Walton or email ABSW.

About A Better South Walton:

A Better South Walton (ABSW) is made up of a diverse group of citizen volunteers who share a concern about the future of South Walton. ABSW’s mission is to seek more effective governance and local representation for South Walton to preserve and enhance its unique character, property values and quality of life.

The focus of ABSW is thoughtful analysis and discussion regarding ideas for more effective local governance and therefore, the future of South Walton. ABSW will also work to encourage the citizens of South Walton to weigh in formally and have a say in determining how South Walton will be managed going forward.

A Better South Walton Thanks You!

July 6, 2016 – A Better South Walton (ABSW) is incredibly fortunate to have the support of so many members of the local community. ABSW began as a group of citizens devoting their time and energy to exploring ideas to improve South Walton as it rapidly expands. With tremendous local support, ABSW has evolved into an initiative that seeks more effective, responsive governance and increased local representation for South Walton to preserve and enhance the unique character and quality of life that our residents and visitors value.

ABSW is proud to have the following number of citizens supporting the effort thus far by:
• Volunteering to donate their time – 101 people
• Responding to the survey – 2,294 people
• Signing up for the ABSW newsletter – 710 people
• Making a financial donation – 142 people

Donations make it possible for ABSW to fund necessary research and analysis and to communicate this information to the citizens and businesses of South Walton. Financial and in-kind donations have both been an integral part of the continued growth of ABSW.

To date, more than 140 individual donations ranging from $10 to $10,000 have been received by ABSW and a detailed listing of those donors contributing $300 or more can be found on the ABSW website, here.

ABSW still has a great deal to accomplish, and asks that you consider:
• What level of donation you would be comfortable making?
• How your time and talents could help the efforts of ABSW?
• Reaching out to ABSW to schedule a meeting with your neighbors, club,
business, church, etc., to educate your group on the ABSW initiative.
• Signing the petition, if you haven’t already, and actively engaging others to do the
same.

The continued support of the South Walton community is vital to the mission of ABSW.
Please ask your family, friends, colleagues and neighbors to:
• Sign the petition here
• Donate here
• Volunteer here
• Contact ABSW – info@abettersouthwalton.org – to schedule a community
meeting.

Educate yourself, and encourage those around you to do the same. Learn more about this initiative, the results of the preliminary feasibility study and the multiple benefits this could bring to South Walton by visiting www.ABetterSouthWalton.org.

About A Better South Walton:

A Better South Walton (ABSW) is made up of a diverse group of citizen volunteers who share a concern about the future of South Walton. ABSW’s mission is to seek more effective governance and local representation for South Walton to preserve and enhance its unique character, property values and quality of life.

ABSW’s focus is on thoughtful analysis and discussion regarding ideas for more effective local governance and therefore, the future of South Walton. ABSW will also work to encourage the citizens of South Walton to weigh in formally and have a say in determining how South Walton will be managed going forward.

South Walton Feasibility Study Summary

A Better South Walton has released a summary of the full South Walton Feasibility Study. This Summary is intended to provide a short version of the full study that includes the key content points and findings. Some additional information is included in this summary for readability and to assist the reader in understanding the overall context.

View the full Feasibility Study Summary here

A Better South Walton Releases Feasibility Study Results and Identifies Critical Next Steps

JUNE 6, 2016 – A Better South Walton, Inc. (ABSW), a nonprofit organization founded to seek more effective governance and local representation for South Walton, announces the results of its completed feasibility study and essential next steps for the community.

Announced at the recently held community meetings, the feasibility study results proved that incorporation is viable. A PowerPoint presentation outlining the study’s results, including comparable city comparisons, potential tax impact, and suggested revenue and budget plans, was shown to attendees to educate them on the opportunities available to South Walton. The full feasibility study can be found
here and the presentations outlining those results can be found here.

With the study now complete and showing that South Walton meets the requirements for incorporation and that it is in fact feasible, ABSW is asking South Walton residents to help with three critical components to move this initiative forward.

The first step is to sign the petition. From now until September 6, 2016, ABSW will be collecting signatures to petition the State Legislature to give South Walton residents the option to vote on whether or not the community becomes its own municipality. This petition is only asking for the opportunity to vote – actually voting on whether or not South Walton incorporates will not be until 2017. The petition may be signed online at here.

The second step is making a donation. ABSW is a volunteer-run organization, but funding is needed for critical expenses such as legal counsel, consultants and legislative outreach. It is imperative to have the necessary funding in place to continue this course of action as the final phases of this initiative develop. Information on how to donate may be found online here.

The third and final step is a call for volunteers. ABSW needs the residents of South Walton to help get the petition signed, host informational sessions for their neighbors, congregations or groups, act as community ambassadors, and to encourage voter registration. Volunteer information and opportunities may be found online here.

“We are on the cusp of something outstanding,” says DAVID or DAVE. “The results of this feasibility study reinforce what we, as residents of South Walton, already know: that we are a unique community, the largest in all of Walton County, that is deserving of the benefits and opportunities that incorporation brings. We can make South Walton better, but we need the community’s support to make it happen.”

To learn more about the ABSW initiative, visit www.ABetterSouthWalton.org or contact info@ABetterSouthWalton.org.

About A Better South Walton:

A Better South Walton (ABSW) is made up of a diverse group of citizen volunteers who share a concern about the future of South Walton. ABSW’s mission is to seek more effective governance and local representation for South Walton to preserve and enhance its unique character, property values and quality of life.

ABSW’s focus is on thoughtful analysis and discussion regarding ideas for more effective local governance and therefore, the future of South Walton. ABSW will also work to encourage the citizens of South Walton to weigh in formally and have a say in determining how South Walton will be managed going forward.

Presentation: ABSW’s Community Information Presentation Unveiled

After much research, study and thoughtful consideration, we believe that incorporation of South Walton as a municipality is the best way to begin to address our community’s concerns and opportunities. Our goal is to provide the citizens of South Walton with as much information as possible about the potential incorporation of our community and with opportunities to discuss that information and get your questions answered. Please view the presentations for more information.