PCB City Council Divided over Christmas Bonuses

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Panama City Beach City Council Members appear to be divided over a certain annual bonus they get this time of year. One of the council members brought up the issue during Thursday night's council meeting saying he doesn't theink they deserve the money.

The Christmas bonus has been a tradition since the 70s. Every November all part-time employees and council members get a bonus based on how many years they've worked for the city. Thursday Council Member Keith Curry expressed his concerns over the incentive pay. He said the employees deserve it but not the council members who are elected officials.

City workers employed for a year get $100, 2 to 3 years $250, 3 to 5 get $350, and more than 5 years receive $500. This year the council got a total of $1,450. Curry claimed the council members aren't being good stuards of tax-payer dollars taking the money, even though other city officials said the city has spent more researching the issue than the council actually received from the Christmas bonus. Curry fired back saying it's a matter of principal.

"$1,450 multiplied by 'well we've always done that way' turns into some money, and my policy has always been, 'If you can't trust a man with a dollar, you might not need to trust him with a million dollars,'" said Curry.

"It is a small amount of money, but it means a lot to the employees. It would be a disincentive to take it away from any of our employees or our city council," Mayor Gayle Oberst said.

Curry made a motion to do away with the incentive pay for the council, but it failed two votes to three with Mayor Oberst along with Council Members Rick Russell and Josie Strange voting to keep it. It just so happens they say they themselves actually kept the money this year. Council Members Curry and John Reichard said they donated their bonuses to the charity "Cops for Kids."

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