Perhaps this post isn’t necesary, but I feel it prudent to underscore Bryan’s comments and insight into the current actions of the TDC.
An interesting point is brought up, and that point is: why are we just now discussing the budget?
We had all summer with little or almost no activity regarding public TDC meetings. It seems that there was ample time to discuss these issues and more. Is there a reason the TDC meetings come virtually to a halt during the summer months? This is the time we need to be discussing everything and making changes on the fly as needed.
Additionally, why were we notified at 4pm on Friday, before a long holiday weekend that first thing Tuesday after Labor Day a special meeting would be held to discuss such important matters. Is the TDC incapable of scheduling meetings in advance? Or, is this done intentionally so as to keep public attendance low and allow the TDC to make decisions with little or no public scritiny?
As far as the distribution for the budget document goes, I’ve never seen this document before I was forwarded it from Bryan.
What about improving our sports facilities or implementing a lifeguard system. The county was able to move quickly in actuating a ticket system for those that swim during red flags, which should help, but Panama City Beach has yet to make a move to improve the safety of our beaches. Tourists from around country now think of our beach in a similar manner as those that swam in the imagined shark-infested waters of the Jaws-era. We need to wash ourselves of this image and reinstill security in the minds of those that not only visit here, but those that would like to visit here. As Bryan mentioned, do we know how many tourists we are losing because they are flat out scared to swim in our waters? I understand being cheap (or frugal, depending on if you want to be positive or negative about this), but THIS IS NOT SOMETHING WE CAN IGNORE ANY LONGER. Is our City incapable of coming together and making a decision? I know the mayor is opposed to using money from the general fund, but what about bed tax money? When will this be discussed? When are we going to look at what our competition is doing and do the same? This is common business practice. You see what your competition is doing that’s working and you do it also, only better. duh.
Oh, right, improving our sports facilities. What’s up with that? Why are we scoffing at the opportunity to expand our tourist base? Don Schumacher of Don Schumacher & Associates, Inc. recommended at the last TDC meeting that we expand our existing sports facilities. He cited that the only reason we were still competetive is that we have a beach, but that soon that would not be enough to stay in game. He recommended adding 4 to 8 more baseball/softball fields and a large indoor multi-purpose facility that could be used for basketball, cheerleading competitions, and myriad other indoor sporting events. The facility could also be used for trade shows and conferences. The estimated cost would be $20 million but would result in an estimated annual economic impact of around $30 million. During the meeting before mentioned, Chairman Andy Phillips requested that Schumacher provide an estimated cost of a feasibility study for a project of this magnitude. Has this been done?
Another interesting point that has been brought up is that locals strongly oppose a bed tax increase. Can I ask why? Again, we have to look at what our competition is doing. If our competition is doing something that we are not, that gives them a competitive advantage, again, we not only look like idiots, we ARE idiots. Why can’t we move on this? Why don’t we raise our bed tax. We are at 3%, Walton County is at 4%, we need to be at 5% at least. We want to compete? We need more money.
Bryan is growing concerned that we are seeing more and more the TDC acting the way is did two years ago. We need to see action, we need to see decisions made. We can’t afford to sit back on our heels and allow our competition to continue passing us by.
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