Today’s TDC meeting resulted in the Bay County Clerk receiving approval for increased funding to pay for 2 additional full time staff to help in the collection efforts of the Bed Tax. Currently there is one full time person dedicated to this effort. Recently there has been much debate on whether to increase the bed tax from 4 to 5 cents with the increase from 3 to 4 cents being passed just four weeks ago.
One of the huge debates was based on the current collection methods of the bed tax and how revenues could be substantially increased if collection methods were made more efficient and work was done to see who wasn’t paying. Bill Kinsaul, Clerk of the Courts, this morning stated that this effort was just too large for one person, but with the addition of two others full time that they could dedicate man-power to spend time “in the field” doing audits and investigating those not paying.
Also, with the increased funding they will make software improvements that will allow them better reporting, analytics and overall data streamlining. The current funding was 2% of the 3 cents levied and it was increased to 3% or the 4 cents levied.
Emerald Coast Cruizin reported on the success of their event noting that 3,009 vehicles registered for the show this year. This number is 748 more than last year (2007) or an astounding 33% increase. In 2005, when this event first started, 535 cars registered indicating a tremendous growth and popularity. This is a family-friendly event that brings people from all over the place and provides a clean environment to bring the kids, be outside and have a great time. I brought my boys this past year and they loved walking arond and looking at all the cars.
Dually impressive was the show tickets bought; 6,742 tickets were sold. When combining the number of attendees through ticket sales and attendance by registrants (averaging 2 per car) the total event attendance rang in at 12,760 people over the whole week.
Alabama was the largest feeder state at 581 registrants with Louisiana, then Georgia and Mississippi coming in next at 542, 391, 371, respectively.
Now, if I can say something, coming from Jason and not Panama City Beach, PCBDaily, or whatever other hat I may wear: We need to support this event. Whether it be through giving them more money from the CVB, local businesses buying ads and contributing sponsorship dollars or what, we have to come together as a community on this. This is one of the only family events that you can bring the kids, have some festival food and walk around in the beautiful November weather Panama City Beach is so well known for. Plus, it is cheap. I had the unique opportunity to play a small role in this event this past year and witnessed local businesses shying away from any type of monetary support stating that they would see the business from this event anyway, why should they pay for an ad or sponsorship at some nominal level. That’s just ridiculous. Why wouldn’t you support something like this if you are given the chance. You wouldn’t work for free, would you? Well, that’s what the Parishes have been doing. In fact, it cost them money to put on the event – out of their own pocket! Next year, do the right thing and support this event. I’ll get off my soapbox now.
The Visual Arts Center will be hosting an exhibit titled Norman Rockwell’s America this summer from 6/12/09 to 8/9/09 (8 weeks). Norman Rockwell’s art was often critisized in its time for portraying an America that was in essence a fairy tale, in that the scenes that he painted were not realistic or could not really be found in America. Well, artist (please forgive me, I didn’t get his name!) noticed in many of his photographs that he was indeed capturing America as Norman Rockwell saw it. The exhibit this summer will feature his work, which are modern day interpretations of popular peices from Norman Rockwell. And, the real treat is that they will be right next to the original Rockwell peices that they are interpretted from. Many of these peices have never been on loan out from their owners for public viewing. I personally think this is a huge addition to what our summer visitors can do while they are here, and I was a little dissappointed in the level of support that the TDC showed.
Susan Estler and Dan Rowe underscored their emphasis on family spring break in the spring break marketing efforts and made mention of a few national media plugs discussing this point, including an AP article written and an upcoming interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution. I’m very interested to see the outcome as we are just weeks away before the spring break gates flood open.Print Story