Bay County Commissioners Considering Property Tax Hike

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PANAMA CITY-- Last year they met the need with 8-million dollars in BP money, but they don't have that money this year.

Increased property values will only bring in a little less than an extra 1-million dollars.

So commissioners are considering a 1-mil property tax hike.

"We have reached a point where we've either have to do something or start cutting services," said Mike Thomas, Bay County Commissioner.

"We are spending more money throughout the county than we have income in order to break even," said Guy Tunnell, Bay County Commissioner.

1-mil equals 1-dollar for every thousand dollars in property value.

It would mean an extra $100 in taxes on a $150,000 home.

County budget officials estimate the 1-mil increase would bring in an additional 14-million dollars, enough to cover the budget and put some back into the county's reserve account.

Bay County's constitutional officers also presented their proposed budgets to county commissioners Tuesday. The biggest request came from Sheriff Frank Mckeithen.

"Our budget and your budget is larger than everyone's because the number of people we employee," said Frank McKeithen, Bay County Sheriff.

Mckeithen says he scaled down his original request, which was a $907,000 increase over last year. Now he's requesting a $712,000 increase. It includes a 3% employee pay raise and 30 new cars.

Mckeithen says some of the currently cars are at the end of their service lives and can no longer be repaired.

He also wants to hire 9 additional bay county jail corrections officers.

Commissioners are also they're proposing a 1% raise for every county employee and another 2% in merit increases.

The raise would benefit more than 600 county employees.

Commissioners also heard from Clerk of Courts Bill Kinsaul, Tax Collector Peggy Brannon and Property Appraiser Dan Sowell.

Elections Supervisor Mark Andersen will present his budget proposal in 2 weeks.

Commissioners will continue discussing the budget in two weeks. They must have it in place by October 1st.