March 2023

Jacob Willenborg


Everything you’d need to know about what’s happening here in Panama City Beach and Bay County. I attend the bi-weekly Panama City Beach City Council meeting, so you don’t have to! This month I'm sharing the key points from Mayor Mark Sheldon's first "State of the City Address" which provides Panama City Beach's roadmap for the future.

State of the City Address

In 2020, Panama City Beach adopted its first strategic plan for 2020-2026 with the aim of creating a safe and family-friendly community and improving the quality of life for its residents. With input from Panama City Beach's residents and businesses, the city council has outlined several priorities.

Priority 1: Financial Health

The city's capital plans for the next several years are not dependent on taxes or property taxes. Panama City Beach remains one of the few cities in the state with no Ad Valorem tax or property tax. The city council passed its biggest budget this year, relying heavily on grant funding. In 2021 and 2022, the city received 13 grants for stormwater outfall and drainage projects, septic to sewer conversions, new safe room facilities, utility relocation, street lighting repairs, and a new fire training tower. Panama City Beach hired federal and state lobbyists in order for the city to get its fair share of state and federal dollars. 2022 kicked off a multi-year citywide software update to unify the activities of all the city's departments.

Priority 2: Economic Development

The Panama City Beach city council plans to aggressively support economic development that will create a diverse, more resilient, and robust economy for the long run. A citizen committee has been set up to achieve this goal. Mayor Sheldon shared that the city continues to experience unprecedented growth and does not have an off-season like it used to. 
Year on Year:
Housing Growth went from 68 Single-family permits to 131 permits
Commercial Development went from 11 to 32 permits; an increase in value from $7 million to $46 million
The total of all permits in the last 12 months has been $143 million
Approved the city's largest budget in history worth $256 million
The city saw a 26% increase in new business with its business tax receipt for 2022 amounting to $18.8 million 
Short-term rentals were up 4.2 Million or 8% year-over-year

Priority 3: Front Beach Road CRA Project

The Front Beach Road Community Redevelopment Area is a key project for Panama City Beach to meet the challenge of transportation mobility. The CRA marked its 20th year in 2021-2022. A new CRA manager, the Corradino Group was hired in 2021 to help manage the project, as it was taking too long. It has helped to speed up the project in major ways with Mayor Sheldon believing that the city will celebrate the completion of the Segment 3 part of the project next year and begin Segment 4. The completed project will improve mobility in the city, providing a beautiful and functional corridor for residents, businesses, and visitors alike. 
Other areas the city is looking at include resurfacing 17 miles of the city street over the next several months, continuing its public art project, identifying crosswalks that will have improved signalization to improve safety, and redeveloping the city's footprint in front of the Russell Field Pier by expanding and improving the beachfront area with a new decking, restaurant, and restrooms.

Priority 4: Provide Safe and Secure Environment

The Mayor highlighted various projects to provide a safer, cleaner, and more secure environment. 
The city is upgrading fire departments. New construction on a new fire department by City Hall has begun and the city is replacing Station 32 on Hutchison Blvd. All these projects are fully funded.
The police department continues to grow. The council has approved every ask of the police department to keep everyone safe. One measure is the K9 officers program and the city is looking to build a k9 housing facility. The police impound yard will be upgraded and a car seat safety program for families has been launched. 

Priority 5: Further Improve the Quality of Life

A citizen survey conducted highlighted the need for more healthcare. The community needed a hospital and in partnership with St. Joe Company, THM and FSU a new research teaching and clinical research hospital is currently under construction. This state-of-the-art education facility will be where doctors can complete their residency and grow with our community. There will be over 400 Beds to serve our community and visitors.
Just outside the city limits, HCA opened a free-standing ER. 
There is a new Master Plan for Frank Brown Park and Aaron Bessant Park. The city is adding a skatepark, pickleball courts, new basketball courts, a Community Center Safe Room, and a BMX Course. The roads at Frank Brown Park will be straightened and the city is working with FDOT to create a pedestrian overpass to connect the two parks over PCB Parkway.
Gayle's Trails will be expanded, the city will be adding 1.5 miles of trails from Breakfast Point. The city received another $1.7 million grant from FDOT and the project will only cost the city $80,000 to complete. 
The city is working with FDOT to increase Back Beach Rd to six lanes. There are two contracts to widen the road within the year. The first contract will be from Mandy Lane to Nautilus, while the Second will be from Nautilus to Richard Jackson. They are two separate contracts so the work can be happening at the same time.
I'd love to know if you have any questions about the area and will be more than happy to answer any queries you may have!


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