PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — After Hurricane Michael devastated Bay County, officials hired lobbying firms to help the county rebuild.

Officials said Timmins Consulting and the Southern Group of Florida secured funding for the county at a state level.

“One of those firms lobbies for us in the House,” Bay County County Manager Robert Majka said. “The other firm lobbies for us in the Senate. And then they share duties, lobbying respective state agencies and the executive branch.”

Capitol Hill consulting works at the federal level. Majka said the county has spent $850,000 on lobbying. He said those firms have brought around $74 million to Bay County for projects including increased affordable housing and wastewater treatment. 

“If you were a private business and you were seeing that type of return on investment you know your shareholders would be would be very happy,” Majka said.

But Majka said the county didn’t always use lobbying firms.

“I am not a pro-lobbyist manager,” Majka said. “I think that, you know, if we can handle certain things ourselves, we should.”

But he said the county needed to secure funding from Tallahassee and Washington to rebuild.

“It’s imperative that we have people on the ground over there in Tallahassee that know the process,” Majka said. “They know the battlefield, so to speak. They know who to talk to. They know who to go to, to get legislation sponsored.”

He said much of those funds come from FEMA. Majka believes federal and state funds would have gone elsewhere if it weren’t for the lobbying firms.

“To not have somebody in that room that can stand up and speak intelligently about that subject, can be it can be a hindrance,” Majka said. “It can be a drawback. So it’s very important for us to have that presence.”