Dancing on the animated floor projection, Governor Charlie Crist made an appearance at the Panama City Beach’s Chamber of Commerce last Tuesday to attend a “round-table” meeting with 10 of the leaders of the Panama City Beach community. Among many topics, the dynamics involved with education funding, offshore drilling, and the new Panama City-Bay County Airport were discussed.
A restricted schedule kept the questions to a minimum, but 5 were able to address the Governor including Anthony DuBose on the lending industry, Al McCambry on private vs public education funding, Dan Rowe on offshore drilling, Tom Morgan about the new airport, and Gary Walsingham regarding college funding. The answers varied and actually resulted in around 50 minutes of video footage.
Starting off discussing the housing market, Governor Crist talked about the current 10% annual cap on property taxes for 2nd homes and businesses and the possiblity of that being cut in half, should the people of Florida vote on it on the November 2010 ballot. The Florida legislature just passed this to be on the ballot. In addition, there will also be a 25% reduction in property taxes to first-time homebuyers.
Governor Crist also commented on state-wide education in that when he first came into office, Education Weekly ranked Florida education 31st out of 50 in the United States. Last year, the state of Florida was ranked 14th and this year Florida ranked 10, marking a clear improvement, Crist said. The Governor humbly credited his predecessor Gov Jeb Bush for setting in play most of what led to the increase in quality education in Florida.
Regarding offshore drilling, Governor Crist voiced his opinion in support of drilling citing that if “it’s safe enough, far enough and clean enough,” then he thinks we should do it. He discussed a new technology that was presented to him three weeks ago that placed a mushroom-shaped dome on the ocean floor that housed all the oil extraction equipment so that no surface equipment would be needed any longer. He said that this could be the future of drilling and could lead to less environmental risk. “I believe the founders of our country signed the Declaration of Independence, not the Declaration of Dependence,” said Crist, describing how we need to alleviate our dependence on foreign oil.
Governor Crist commented on the airport saying that the timing couldn’t be better to help push this part of Florida into prosperous economic times. Enterprise Florida, a new initiative to grow industry in the State of Florida has the potential to spread its influence further into the Bay County area, and Crist said that is largely due to the economic opportunities the new airport will make possible. There lies huge opportunity in the aerospace, bio-engineering, cargo, and more. Crist, excited about the opportunity, “This is so much the right thing to do.”
Crist also cited that there was an increase in education funding to the tune of $2.1 billion which will lead to about $43 million in increased funding for community colleges and $100 million in increased funding for university-level colleges.
- Beth Oltman, President/CEO of the Panama City Beach Chamber
- Anthony DuBose, President of Coastal community Insurance and PCB Chamber
- Mayor Gayle Oberst of Panama City Beach
- Philip Griffitts Jr., Owner of Sugar Sands Inn and Suites
- Paul Wohlford, VP Sales and Marketing of the Resort Collection of Panama City Beach
- Marty McDaniel, President of Oaseas Resorts, Chairman of the Bay County TDC
- Dan Rowe, President of the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau
- Jessica Pfefferkorn, Commanding Officer, Naval Support Activity Panama City
- Robert Carroll, Vice President, McNeil Carroll Engineering
- Al McCambry, General Manager of Knology
- Karen Blackerby, Vice President of Magnum Capital
- Jack Bishop, Restaurant Owner
- Steve Counts, President of Counts Real Estate Group
- Gary Walsingham, CEO Walsingham Investment/Ripley’s Beleive It or Not
- Elizabeth Walters, Attorney/Partner of Burke Blue Hutchison Walters & Smith
- Edy Rivard, Gulf Coast Medical
- Tom Morgan, St. Joe