Bay Co. Commission approves more money for beach safety

Bay County

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — More money is now going towards public safety on Panama City Beach.

Bay County commissioners approved a recommendation from the Tourist Development Council on Tuesday to designate more funding towards safety services across the sand.

The TDC has been allocating 10 percent of the first and second cent of bed, or tourism, taxes collected on safety.

Now, they will double that, designating 10 percent of the third and fourth cent of the tourism taxes to public safety.

After a record-breaking season for tourism and dangerous surf conditions in the Gulf this summer, the money collected will cover the costs of adding more lifeguards and deputies on the beach.

Commissioner Philip “Griff” Griffitts said the tax change is much-needed.

“I think the conversation was really brought to the front of ‘How do we get out there in front of this and try to prevent some of these senseless tragedies?’ and one way to do that is to put more people on the beach that have a police presence or a lifeguard presence,” Griffitts said. “The fire department is cross trained in water safety, so a lot of those fire department officials will be on the beach helping the Sheriff’s department on those busy days.”

Griffitts also said these extra funds will help pay public safety officials that worked overtime during the busy summer months.

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