Panama City residents express concerns about proposed fire assessment tax

Panama City

PANAMA CITY Fla. (WMBB) — Concerned Panama City residents gather outside city hall to express opposition to a proposed fire assessment tax.

Residents say now is not the time to burden homeowners, considering what the area has faced in the last two years.

This proposed fire tax would cost property owners in Panama City around 176 dollars a year – which citizens like Dr. John Haley Jr. say is too much.

“Having to deal with Hurricane Michael, having to deal with COVID-19 loss of revenue streams and you’ve gotta understand families only have one or two revenue streams,” said Haley.

Dr. Haley and other residents organized this gathering to express their concerns in hopes that the city would reconsider the timing of this tax.

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said the timing is always right to do what is right and we don’t think that the timing of this is right,” said Dr. Rufus Wood Jr.

Alvin Peters said he thinks there are other ways the city can find the money. 

“Review the budget and look for some savings that can approximate the four million dollars or so that they are trying to raise through the fire assessment,” said Peters.

According to Dr. Haley, other municipalities only pay 40 to 80 dollars a year for a fire assessment. So he believes the city has failed to do the proper research on the tax.

“They need to do more homework,” said Haley. “Evaluate what’s going on around the state of florida and see whether or not they’re really being fair and equitable and burdening the citizens of this city with this heavy assessment right now.”

For those still wishing to express their concerns about the proposed fire assessment tax, The City of Panama City will be holding a public hearing Monday September 14 at 8 a.m. at the Bay County government center – all are welcome to attend.

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