PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — A tax referendum for businesses could be reinstated in Panama City. Commissioners voted to put the referendum on the ballot in April.

For thirty years Panama City had an Ad Valorem tax exemption program in place for new businesses. But in 2021 voters rejected renewing the tax break. 

Now officials in the Bay County business community hope to bring the temporary incentive back.

“This is a very common practice for cities in Florida to offer property tax exemptions like this to attract new businesses,” Bay County Chamber of Commerce Chairman Elect Joe Holt said.

Officials said tax subsidies would help Panama City bring more companies to the area. They said the program would create good jobs throughout the city.

Bay EDA President Becca Hardin said the program would create good jobs throughout the city. 

She said a tax break would encourage more companies to locate here, including a German manufacturer interested in Panama City.

“That project would bring 730 new jobs to Panama City with a capital investment of $50 million. It’s critical that we continue to have tools in our toolbox, and this tax exemption is an incentive that we can offer to help bring companies to Panama City,” Hardin said.

Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki said other local municipalities already offer similar tax breaks, putting Panama City at a disadvantage.

“The county has tax exemptions and also Lynn Haven, and Panama City had it for 30 years,” Brudnicki said.

If the referendum passes it will be in place for 10 years.