Bay County Commission Passes 5th Cent

by February 17, 2009 • 13 comments

With the likeness of a modern game or reality show, the suspense was lingering and drawn out.  Chairman Girvin surely is a student of this dramaticism.  The presentation from Dan Rowe, Executive Director of the Bay County Tourist Development Council (TDC) and President of the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) was short and not even necessarily sweet.  It was almost as though he was there only because he needed to be.  Not that Rowe was unwilling, but it seemed apparent that this was all part of a strategy.

Last month the Bay County Commission passed with a majority vote to increase the bed tax collected from 3 cents to 4 cents.  In order to pass the 5th cent increase, a super majority vote was required, that is to say that 4 of the 5 commissioners had to vote in approval.  The lack of the super majority support on the 4th cent influenced Commissioner Mike Thomas to request that voting on the 5th be tabled until the regularly scheduled meeting that was held today so that his fellow commissioners could further educate themselves on the ramifications of this decision.

Out of the six that spoke up about the bed tax increase during the public comment section, 4 spoke in opposition of the increase and 2 spoke in approval.  Among the two one worked for St. Joe, and the other was Chairman Tannehill of the Airport Authority.  Tannehill mentioned that we cannot overlook this opportunity to help Bay County grow.  “Everybody asked for it, we’re giving it to them, we need to be sure it’s gonna work,” he continued.

After Chairman Tannehill spoke, Chairman Girvin asked if anyone else had any comments.  “This room is full of people that have concern either for or against this issue, I can’t beleive that nobody has anything else to say about it,” he said.

There were three motions total, with the first two from Commissioner Mike Thomas, which ultimately failed to carry.  The first motion was to allow the increase to pass with no restrictions, the second was to limit the bed tax to 5 years (the same as the resolution), but to allow the TDC to spend it as they see fit.

The third motion was made by Commissioner and TDC Board Member Mike Nelson.  Discussion led everyone down the road that resulted in some flexible conversation on the part of Chairman Girvin.  He seemed to be making suggestions as to what he could agree with.  Commissioner Bill Dozier at one point asked Chairman Girvin “I can’t be comfortable with the motion until you are comfortable with it, are you comfortable with it?”  Girvin: “Well, I don’t know!”  I had to chuckle as at this point, it seemed as though he was being purposefully suspenseful.

Commissioner Nelson’s initial motion was unclear and after many minutes of conversation it was restructured to adopt the Resolution that the TDC approved yesterday and  to approve the increase.

With no discussion left, Chairman Girvin ordered the roll called.  Going through the ranks, Thomas-yes, Dozier-yes, Gainer-no, Nelson-yes, Girvin- “Before I vote, I would like to make a comment.  No matter which way I go on this, someone will be upset.  I have great respect for many of the people on both sides of this issue,” he said.  “However I have to make the decision that is best for Bay County, as these are perilous times for us, and we need all the help we can get.  On one of the sides, not everyone has been completely honest with me.  I think we would be in err if we didn’t at least give it a try for five years, and with that said, I vote YES.”

When his vote came through after a suspenseful comment, you could hear the crowd sigh and almost burst into applause.  Tourism industry leaders could be seen with ear to ear grins as a seeming victory had been won, as if this was some sort of battle.  I’ve not always agreed in the past with the way the TDC has spent money, and I’m sure I won’t always agree with them in the future, but I think this was a good move and an innovative way to move forward.

Having said that, I just want to be clear on how this money will be spent, as there seemed to be some confusion at the meeting that these funds could be used to directly subsidise an airline – and I don’t think this is the case, as it was explained yesterday (someone, please chime in if I am incorrect).

This 5th cent will be used for advertising, in a cooperative relationship with an airline(s) that may have an interest in flying into our new airport.  For example: a string of advertisements in Chicago that would advertise special rates with X airline on trips to Panama City Beach, FL.  This would give incentive to the airline that their flights here would be well occupied and increase the number of people exposed to our beautiful area.

Good form Commissioners and Board members, good form!

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1 Ryan February 17, 2009 at 8:38 pm

5th cent, or 5%? What is the total % of taxes in Bay County for hotel rooms.


2 Bryan Durta February 17, 2009 at 11:11 pm

In the city of Panama City Beach, my calculation shows 12.11% (5% bed tax,6% sales tax, and the 1% city tax).

The extra .11 is because the city charges tax on the sales tax. The city tax(I believe one of only two in the state of Florida) basically takes the place of a city property tax which is non-existant.


3 LBResort 3 February 18, 2009 at 9:35 am

According to the flyer that the Clerk’s office puts out when you register, you are suppossed to add the PCB license tax to the room rent then multiply it by the County bed tax rate to figure what you owe the TDC.

Everyone that thinks that charging tax on tax should be illegal, please raise your hand.


4 Bryan Durta February 18, 2009 at 8:25 pm

As I understand it, the PCB 1% tax is a tax on the business, NOT a sales tax on the consumer. It is my opinion that businesses should include the tax in their posted prices(like all other costs of doing business), not act like it is sales tax.


5 LBResort 3 February 19, 2009 at 9:57 am

Interesting thought. However, after looking at my Walmart invoice it has an item listed as tax 2(1%) and my CVS invoice collected 7% tax while the state tax is only 6%. The PCB tax owed by the business is based on the sales to the consumer. If there are no sales, there is no tax due.

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a _______?


6 WishWeCouldBeInPCBEveryDayToo February 21, 2009 at 9:50 pm

I truly enjoy reading postings on this site! The one thing I’ve noticed, it is after the fact. Wouldn’t it benefit all, to have postings from our commissioner’s ‘first hand’?

Hope other’s who have received notice of collection increase from Bill Kinsaul Clerk of the Court & Comptroller of Bay County, ALSO NOTE (on my notice) paid postage of 59 cents for one page envelope. Not a good sign for throwing away taxpayer funds, while demanding additional collections.


7 John February 24, 2009 at 8:39 am

I missed something.
I noticed the other day that
the US Airways counter at the
airport appears to be vacant.

What happened?
I think we should figure that out
and figure it into our plans….


8 Butch Metcalf February 24, 2009 at 10:48 am

Seems that no one is looking out for the owners in PCB. Now the condo and hotel owners will be paying another 2% out of their already negative cash flows for more wasteful government spending. I hope I am wrong but I believe we will see even more beach foreclosures because of this additional burden the commissioners have placed on our owners. I am already getting feed back of owners discussing throwing in the towel on their bleeding investments. This is just one more blow with the already increased condo fees, insurance, taxes, and depreciated values of 50% or more. I guess none of them have ever heard that the value of a rental is based on it’s net cash flows. All our owners just took another 2% hit.
As I sprcialize in selling foreclosure properties for lenders I take no pride in seeing the devistation that these investments are causing for so many good people. This is just another slap in their face. We only have a 2 month peak season, June and July. And now they want to take another $80 a month from our owners. Now that the total tax is at 12% I’ll bet there will be more folks that will not pay anything and rent themselves, and there will be more foreclosed units sitting empty.
I only hope that they do meet the projected income figures and spend the money wisely. But I’m not optomistic that will happen.


9 Suz February 27, 2009 at 12:00 pm

All I have to say is “AMEN!” to those who are lamenting this additional tax. It seems asinine to me in this environment where we need to be providing incentives for people to come spend vacation dollars here, instead of giving them reasons to stay home or go elsewhere.

Plus, as an owner, I’m ticked off that I didn’t receive the notice until YESTERDAY 2/26. A lot of my bookings have already happened and I certainly can not, in good conscience, go back to those who have booked already. So, there goes another 2% straight out of my pocket. BOO!


10 Kirk Lancaster March 21, 2009 at 8:57 am

Well looky here! More tax dollars being collected next door to attract Southwest.


11 ross July 12, 2009 at 12:34 pm

What is the total % of taxes you are exempted from when staying in accommodations for a period longer than 6 months.