BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Bay County and Panama City Beach officials continue to hash out their differences over the Front Beach Road Community Redevelopment Agency.
When the Community Redevelopment Agency was created in 2001 it was supposed to allow the Panama City Beach City Council to keep an estimated $112 million in property taxes that would have gone to Bay County. But because of rising property values, the beach has received $172 million.
“The tax base of the CRA has grown 744% since 2001, its huge,” Bay County Commissioner Clair Pease said. “$0.89 of each dollar goes back to the CRA, that is collected from the CRA is returned to the CRA, that leaves $0.11 for the county.”
Two years ago, beach officials extended the CRA until 2049, adding new projects to the mix. County officials are proposing a shorter timeline. On October 11th, County Manager Bob Majka sent a request to the city, which can be seen below. If approved, the county would save $586 million.
“We’re planning to try to speed up projects instead of just kicking the can and making things last longer for the sake of making them last longer, the idea is to speed things up, to get those things done,” Bay County Chairman Tommy Hamm said,
Hamm said he believes the CRA should be eliminated altogether.
“It needs to go away, it’s a unicorn of a CRA, it has a lot of different things that today’s traditional CRAs don’t have,” Hamm said.
In the meantime, commissioners say the city must compromise.
“Whatever we need to do to come together and have an agreement on how we can save the money, I’m certain that they want to save it as much as Bay County wants to save it and I think it’s just time now that we all get together and determine the best way for the beach to move forward and for us to move forward,” Pease said.
Panama City Beach City Manager Drew Whitman sent the county’s letter to the mayor and council members.