Lifeguards for Bay County Face An Obstacle

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BAY COUNTY - Bay County commissioners appear to be leaning toward a contract with vendors for lifeguards.

They may have run into an obstacle providing that service for one of the two locations.

The county's agreement with the state park doesn't allow for vendors.

Bay County commissiners say they'd like to provide lifeguards at the county pier and at Rick Seltzer Park on Thomas Drive.

One funding option came off the table Tuesday, when the Bay County Tourist Development Council said it wasn't interested, for liability reasons even though the Okaloosa and Walton County TDC's both pay for lifeguards.

"That's been their belief the whole time and I share it and I agree with it. I do not think that it is the TDC's job to furnish lifeguards," said Commissioner Mike Thomas.

"I'm waiting to see how that plays out. Certainly I still feel it's a legitmate TDC expenditure. It certainly enhances the tourism industry," said Commissioner Guy Tunnell.

So commissioners are turning to the next most viable option, renegotiating the contract with the vendor that operates the county pier.

Tunnell's not thrilled with the idea, especially if it costs taxpayers.

"If it requires us to kick in some additional funding from our general budget, general revenue fund, I'm not in favor of that," said Tunnell.

The contract at the county pier should not be a problem, but Rick Seltzer Park is another story.

The county leases that land from the state and the contract doesn't allow vendors on the property.

So commissioners may only be able to satisfy half of their plans.

"If you want a lifeguard at the county pier, you're going to see one. If you want one all up and down the beach, i'm not sure that's going to happen," said Thomas.

County officials tell NewsChannel 7 they've approached the state about altering the Rick Seltzer Park agreement with the state, and state officials seem to be open the idea.

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