As other cities around the Panhandle struggle to make up for decreasing property values, Panama City officials say they've done their best to keep afloat. In the first of several budget workshops Monday, they discussed what it would take to keep their heads above water.
In an effort to keep up, the millage rate and utilities may be going up in the next fiscal year...but so may the salaries of city employees.
As far as the millage, the proposed rate sends it up just a tick to 3.8723. In their workshop Monday, they commission discussed taxable values being down about 1.7%. Raising the millage rate slightly allows them to generate approximately the same revenue as the prior year.
Commissioners also discussed increasing utilities for the upcoming fiscal year. Rates would increase by more than 6% for water and more than 3% for sewer. Mayor Greg Brudnicki says with the county charging the city higher rates, the city is forced to respond.
One increase may be welcome news, at least to city employees. Next year's budget also calls for an increase in their pay. The city will take 2 percent of the sum of the salaries and distribute that to workers. Just how that increase will be distributed was a point of discussion for commissioners.
"We shouldn't continue to have the same percentage for people making anywhere from the low end of the scale to the twenties, to the six figure salaries," Mayor Greg Brudnicki said.
Commissioner John Kady was a bit more hesitant.
"What have you seen that makes you think the person making $20,000 a year, or say $40,000 for the city isn't making enough, but the person making $51,000 is making too much?" Commissioner Kady asked.
The commissioners will continue to discuss salaries, the millage, and the funding of outside agencies at another workshop next month at city hall.