DeFUNIAK SPRINGS — Walton County will continue to collect property taxes to support operating expenses in public schools, thanks to local voters.

Unofficial results show that 76.22 percent of the voters who turned up at the polls Tuesday voted in favor of a measure to allow the continued collection of an annual 0.5 mill ad valorem tax for the next four fiscal school years. Voters originally approved the measure 16 years ago.

“We are just thrilled that the voters continue to trust us with that tax-neutral move,” School District Superintendent Russell Hughes said. “Now we can continue to have competitive salaries and state-of-the-art technology that really makes a difference for the Walton County School District.”

Hughes added that the 0.5 millage for the School District has been in effect since 2003, and given that Walton County was named as one of the fastest-growing counties in Florida last year by the U.S. Census Bureau, he is pleased that the tax rate has been able to remain low.

School Board Chairman Bill Eddins Jr. said the yes vote is very important to the school system's budget.

“It gives us a lot of flexibility and allows us to purchase the best materials that we can in order to keep student achievement a priority,” Eddins said.