How next year’s Panama City Beach budget broke city record
PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Have you ever checked your bank account and were pleasantly surprised to see you had a little more in there than you thought? Well, Panama City Beach leaders are checking the city’s balance and it’s about $30 million more than they had last year.
It’s the largest general fund budget in the city’s history at roughly $75 million for the fiscal year 2023.
Mayor Mark Sheldon said running a city costs a lot of money and takes some serious planning. Next year, Panama City Beach will have more to spend than ever before. The biggest chunk always comes from the 1% Business Tax Receipt (BTR), but it isn’t just from tourism boosts.
“We wanted to be financially stable and resilient through the times that we’re having. We knew we had some huge capital projects to do,” Sheldon said. “We’ve also had rollover funds, projects we didn’t get to last year due to COVID or due to things so projects have been pushed for a couple of years. Whether it’s street resurfacing, usually we spend about a million and a half dollars on that. We haven’t been able to do any of that.”
But with COVID, also came federal relief funds. Millions of those dollars will be going towards park upgrades and construction at two fire stations, which is one of the bigger projects in next year’s proposed budget plan.
The city is planning to rebuild two fire stations, one on Back Beach Road near City Hall. The other, Fire Station #32 on Middle Beach, will be torn down and rebuilt on Alf Coleman Road. It’s a roughly $11.4 million project that Fire Chief Ray Morgan said is critical for the growing area.
“Neither one are storm hardened and they’re just old and falling apart. So to be able to protect the men and women that work for us so they can protect the community is super valuable,” Chief Morgan said.
Sheldon said safety is the number one priority in next year’s budget, and they’re making sure every dollar is spent wisely to benefit the community.
Officials said they’re always pushing for grants at both the state and federal levels. Some of those funds are being put towards an $8 million safe room at Frank Brown Park in case of a storm.
None of these proposed projects for next year are set in stone. The budget won’t be approved until September.
There will be a second budget workshop looking at utilities and CRA plans on August 23rd at 9 a.m. That will be held at City Hall. Workshops are open to the public both in-person and online at https://www.pcbfl.gov/.
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