Business Owners Speak up at TDC Meeting

By: Morgan Kyrklund Email
By: Morgan Kyrklund Email
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PANAMA CITY BEACH - A group of beach business owners took their concerns to the Bay County Tourist Development Council meeting Tuesday morning.

They're calling for tougher ordinances to help control spring break.

Tuesday's meeting began with TDC Chairman Buddy Wilkes addressing the extent of the organization's involvement in Spring Break funding.

It wasn't until the end of the meeting that things got interesting.

That's when a group of local business owners expressed their frustrations, calling for major changes.

"Let's quit slapping these kids on the hand. Let's make it hard for them. Once you start doing that, they'll go somewhere else," said Floyd Skinner, Skinner Tax Consulting.

Bill Buskell, owner of Pineapple Willies, asked the board to support his call for tougher alcohol vender laws on the state level.

"All I'm asking is that we strengthen the law. If I break the law...fine me," Buskell said.

Some of the owners are still embarrassed by last week's negative spring break reports on FOX News' Hannity Show.

"We have been branded and its really, really bad. It's like a slap in the face," said Jan Pittman, business owner.

Local attorney Wes Pittman believes any real changes will have to come from city government.

"The city council members of Panama City Beach, they need all to work together to pass the ordinances that are going to strengthen the community because they are the consciousness of the community," Pittman said.

TDC officials continued pointing out their $100,000 spring break marketing budget is extremely small.

"This board really loves Panama City Beach and we would never do anything to hurt the brand. We have de-funded spring break over the last 7 years," said Buddy Wilkes, Bay Co. TDC Chairman.

Pittman's group is taking the concerns to the next Panama City Beach city council meeting.

Panama City Beach city council members and Bay County commissioners plan to meet next week on spring break.

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