Bay County TDC agrees to boost public safety budget after recent drownings

 BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) – After 7 drownings in 10 days last summer, Fox News labeled Panama City Beach the most dangerous beach in the world. After 6 drownings in just 4 days last month, local tourism officials are taking action. They’re proposing more money to hire more lifeguards. Tuesday morning, Bay County Tourist Development […] [[{“value”:”

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) – After 7 drownings in 10 days last summer, Fox News labeled Panama City Beach the most dangerous beach in the world.

After 6 drownings in just 4 days last month, local tourism officials are taking action. They’re proposing more money to hire more lifeguards.

Tuesday morning, Bay County Tourist Development Council members agreed to boost their public safety budget by almost 25%. From $2.6 million a year to $3.2 million. The proposal is a direct result of two deadly summers on local beaches.


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The majority of the funding will be used to add more lifeguards on the beach.

“This is something that we absolutely welcome the opportunity of being able to do. We work very closely with beach police, the sheriff’s office, and the lifeguard programs for both the city and the county. And so this just, you know, gives us additional resources to support them,” Rowe said.

Bay County TDC Executive Director, Dan Rowe, said they’re hoping to reallocate some of their beach renourishment money to public safety.

“Up to this point in time, the third penny of the tourism tax was off limits to that because it was used exclusively for beach renourishment. And we’ve gotten to the point where we’re collecting enough money to be able to handle all of our beach renourishment requirements, but still, to utilize, you know, the 10% for public safety,” Rowe said.

If approved, the annual public safety budget would jump to $3.2 million.


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“It’s going to be about $600,000. So it’s a, it’s a good healthy amount of money it’ll go a long, long way,” TDC chairman Clair Pease said.

Rowe said they still have to work out the details, like how many additional lifeguards and where they’ll be stationed.

The proposal includes recruiting beach vendors as brand ambassadors and making visitors aware of rip currents and the warning flag system.

The TDC will take the proposal to Bay County Commissioners for final approval.

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