The price of holding a special event in Panama City is going up. The special event handbook is designed to organize the city's permitting process, but some groups say the new guidelines are just too costly.
Commissioners passed the handbook with a few changes Tuesday, and one group says unless more changes are made they might be on their way out
The handbook has been given a dubious name by some in the community.
"We received emails that say the handbook from hell," Commissioner Billy Rader said.
Some members of the community say the devil's in the details, but mayor Greg Brudnicki says they've worked to smooth some of those details out.
"Weather, you know things that you can't control...there's going to be some discretion there," Mayor Brudnicki said. "We reduced the security deposit from $500 to $250."
One thing that caused concern for some groups - the requirement that event organizers pay for 50% of police services at events. The commission decided to put a 5 year plan in place, in which the cost would increase 10% a year.
"We're willing to pay," said Pam George with the Krewe of St. Andrews. "Granted, we want to pay as little as possible, but we're willing to pay and help the city."
Two of the larger groups that organize Mardi Gras celebrations were outspoken. Pam George, representing the Krewe of St. Andrews, was open to the plan. The Krewe of Massilina had a different opinion.
"We don't want anybody to have to pay," said Katherine Miller with the Krewe of Massalina. "Not the veterans, not the Jaycees, and we want to be included in that."
"Why aren't we?"
Katherine Miller says the Krewe of Massalina wants their Mardi Gras celebration to be lumped in with other events exempt from the fee. She says if they're forced to pay, they probably won't stay...and others may follow.
"You're gonna be known as the city commission that drove away the biggest events downtown...and it doesn't make any sense," Miller said.
Commissioners agreed to meet with members of the Krewe of Massalina to see if they could work out some sort of compromise.