PANAMA CITY BEACH Fla. (WMBB) — The new year is quickly approaching which means it is time to look toward the future, that is exactly what the Panama City Beach City Council is doing.

Thursday, they discussed what elements should be included in its five year budget plan. 

City Councilmen and other staff came forward at Thursday’s meeting to say what they have on their “wish lists.” 

City Manager Tony O’Rourke said projecting a plan for the city’s future budget is vital.

“It gives the council at least a roadmap of our overall financial help which is strong, but also the demands on our scarce and finite resources which are not limitless,” O’Rourke said.  

This discussion will help decide which projects and additions the city can include in their budget. 

For example, the police and fire chief both say adding more members to their teams is on their wishlist. The council said they would take it into consideration but are unsure of whether they can afford that expense. 

However, the staff’s voices are not the only ones being heard. 

“We look at things like the citizen survey we took,” O’Rourke said. “That citizen survey is very valuable information about the priorities of the citizens.”

He said the biggest mentions on the survey were roadways, stormwater systems, and safety. Councilman Phil Chester said they are all in agreement that making the city a safer place is at the top of the to-do list.  

“The bottom line is safety is the first and foremost issue that we want to try and attack,” Chester said. “So police, fire, roads after that, infrastructure.” 

These plans are only in the discussion stage. After the new year, the staff will have individual meetings with the city manager who will ultimately choose what will be a priority. 

“Hopefully we continue to do well in the future, but we need to plan for contingencies and matters that we can’t control and we need to live within your means but still produce outstanding services and capital,” O’Rourke said.