Panama City's immediate financial future was set in stone Tuesday night. Commissioners finalize the budget and millage rate for both the Community Redevelopment Agency and the city itself.
However, the process comes with a bit of protest from one group. The Science and Discovery Center had been completely cut out of the budget for 2013, leading the center's director to make a plea to the commission.
"I beg you, don't cut me off this year," said center director Marilyn Fenimore. "Give me one year to write grants help subsidize what you've been giving me. You have 12 acres of economic development, a great place for this city"
The $27,000 that the center requested was slashed from the budget. Commissioners passed the budget as is, but agreed to come up with a budget amendment that would provide the center $13,500, half of what they asked for.
Overall, 2013's budget expenditures are set at just over 72 million. The millage rate is set at 3.87 mills, compared to last year's 3.81 mills. The millage rate for the Downtown Improvement Board is set at 2.75 mills compared to last year's 2.78 mills.
Meanwhile, CRA director William Whitson says they will have just over $4 million dollars to work with. Whitson says it's been a good year for the agency. Most of their planned projects are on the way and big projects, like the Marina Improvement project, are on the horizon. In addition, the grant program has been very successful.
"We're very happy with it...for every grant dollar we've given out we've received almost two back," Whitson said. "We've created well over 50 jobs, we've created some new looks with our downtown."
The commission also agreed to go after BP grant money to fund several CRA projects, including the a pier and a boat ramp at the city marina. Meanwhile commissioners hope to have a budget amendment for the Science and Discovery Center ready by the next meeting.