City Manager looks to connect with community immediately

Panama City Beach

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Panama City Beach welcomed in their new City Manager on January 15.

Tony O’Rourke signed his $170,000 contract to start work and attended his first City Council meeting on Thursday.

News 13 caught up with O’Rourke after the meeting to get his thoughts on his first week of work.

“It’s been great. The staff has been very supportive of getting me information and talking to me about what they think are the opportunities and challenges in the community, as well as the city council,” O’Rourke said.

He says this isn’t the first time he’s worked for a tourist destination and also not his first stop in the Sunshine State.

“I come from a background both managing cities in Coral Springs, Florida like 25 years ago to managing private upscale private resorts like in Colorado.”

He says when looking for his next career move, he wanted to stay in the tourist industry and Panama City Beach impressed him.

“To be honest, where I saw this community is at and where I saw it going. They were on a really positive trajectory. It has resources to get things done. It’s not an unlimited amount of resources but most governments are really strapped and they’re not capable of doing like this community is prepared to do,” he said.

He’s already looking to connect with residents and business owners as he will soon be sending out surveys.

“To identify the needs and expectations of the residents and businesses and also their ratings of city services so we can see, hey what are we doing really well, what we need to improve on, what emerging issues and challenges they can identify so the city can be responsive long term.”

He says he will also give the employees a survey to complete.

“It’s very important. People talk about this is a world-class tourist destination, if you’re going to provide both tourist and residential high-end services, that requires employees.”

He says he wanted to do this in order to really get a grasp on the city for himself.

Overall, he said he chose to come to Bay County because of the level of employees and council. Also, he said his wife loves the beach and they’re looking forward to enjoying the town.

“I like to ride my mountain bike in a conservation park, I’ve been on gayle’s trails numerous times, that’s fantastic. A segregated, safe trail just for cyclists and hikers, gone to the pool, haven’t swum in the Gulf yet, I’m looking forward to that.”

The city will host a ribbon-cutting for the new city hall as well as a meet and greet on Thursday, February 27 immediately following the 9:00 a.m. council meeting.

All residents are welcome to join.

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