Well, the Panama City Beach City Council decided that we need lifeguards, but they don’t know how they will pay for it yet.
Mike Hudson, a resident of Panama City Beach, started a beach rescue service – Bay Medical Center EMS Surf Rescue Unit. His team put together a lifeguard program proposal with was the topic of discussion Thursday’s meeting.
After discussion is was decided that they would push through an already approved budget item to hire lifeguards at the City Pier. They also decided that they will put pressure on Bay County for them to follow suit with similar lifeguard placement actions. As part of discussion it was decided that they would update the existing ordinances that require beach service vendors to be lifeguard trained and update equipment that may be more suitable for current lifeguard needs.
The new proposal was based on a proposal that Hudson put together a few years ago that served as the base structure of the Okaloosa lifeguard program. The estimated start up would be around $600,000 with an annual cost of $500,000. This would fund around 30 seasonal lifeguards and 10 evenly spaced lifeguard towers in addition to a “roving” lifeguard patrol to monitor beaches that are not close to the towers.
Three options for funding were discussed – funds from the CRA, TDC money, money from the City. All three had significant resistance from members of the council and audience. The issue will be in discussion at the July 24 meeting.