Dozens Attend First Friday To Support Bed Tax

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PANAMA CITY-- Dozens of Bay County business owners, city officials, and residents filled the FSU Panama City campus to learn more about the bed tax Panama City will be voting on in the fall.

"We can keep our city vibrant. We can use the tax dollar to promote our downtown and a lot of other activities in Panama City,” said Jay Patel, Red Roof Inn.

Several business and city leaders stood up to show their support for the tax.

"As a hoteler we're going to have to we're going to have to invest in additional money, we're going to have to explain it to the tourists, but we are willing to do that because we think the long term benefits for us and for the community are well worth it,” said Jason Oakes, Buccaneer Motel and Lounge.

"This tax dollar definitely help promote city of Panama City to many different markets,” said Patel.

Last month, Bay County commissioners approved the special election by a 4 to 1 vote and scheduled the election for September 30.

Voters will decide if they want to require hotels and motels within the Panama City limits to collect an additional five percent bed tax which will be used to promote tourism.

"I think that's something that needs to happen. I don't know why it wasn't put in place before. It forces the fact that we need to have a bed tax for Panama City,” said Greg Brudnicki, Panama City Mayor.

As tourism numbers rise, Panama City Beach hotels are filling up and as a result, visitors are booking more stays in Panama City.

"We realize the importance of the bed tax and what it can do for Panama City, which will be good for all of Bay County including us,” said Gayle Oberst, Panama City Beach Mayor.

Estimates show the tax could collect $3 million in revenue in its first two years.

If approved, venues will start collecting the tax next year.

Only Panama City residents will be able to vote on the issue.