Getting on the List

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Bay County commissioners say the one-cent proposed sales tax isn't making sense yet. Commissioners scheduled a public hearing to fine-tune the project list in May, but Bay Medical didn't make the cut.

Commissioner John Newberry would like to see Bay Medical included, saying it's an asset to the community.

"It's not included at this point in time, but it's not excluded, so there's still room to negotiate."

But that negotiating room is getting slimmer, it seems everyone wants a piece of the tax pie, but people need to remember the tax was originally created to pay off the waste incinerator.

Commissioner Cornell Brock is concerned the voters won't approve anything too complicated and lacking accountability.

"I just think we all have to be really clear about where the moneys going to be spent and why we need it."

Clarity and accountability is something Steve Johnson, the CEO of Bay Medical, says they have provided since they first asked to be included.

"One, is we've told you that's what we're going to do. We would be happy to put anything in writing and from what I understand, there would be an oversight committee."

Commissioner Mike Ropa never wanted Bay Medical on the list. He says it creates an unfair advantage against private companies.

"The project list that they submitted has consequences and I don't think that using the sales tax is the avenue to pursue their capital improvement campaign."

Johnson disagrees.

"I would challenge any of the commissioners to give me a more compelling or larger component of economic development than Bay Medical Center."

The commissioners do agree on one thing, the sales tax needs to be something the voters will approve.