Bay County's Surplus Property Proposal Not A Done Deal With City - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Bay County's Surplus Property Proposal Not A Done Deal With City

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What Bay County officials called a "win-win" property deal with the City of Panama City is being viewed as something else entirely by at least one city leader.

The county has proposed transferring its 3.23 acre site at 6th Street and Mulberry Avenue – appraised at $700,000 – to the city.  It would also kick in another half-million to make the total deal worth $1.2 million.

The city has expressed interest in acquiring the property for storm water retention and would use the money to pay for widening Jenks Avenue from 23rd Street to Baldwin Road.

In exchange, the city would pay four years of debt service on the county's juvenile courthouse at $300,000 a year.  That would free up county money for renovations to the main courthouse.

But at last week's Panama City Community Redevelopment Agency meeting, Commissioner John Kady called it a "squirrelly" deal that favors the county and called for the county to chip in another $500,000.

Asked about the status of the deal after Tuesday's county commission meeting, Chairman George Gainer said he was surprised by Kady's reaction.  "It was all moving in one direction and all of a sudden we did a u-turn," said Gainer.  "I think that pot's about as sweet as we can afford… we just don't have any more money."

Commissioner Mike Thomas said the county has alternatives.  "We made an offer to them [and] if they don't want to do it that's fine," said Thomas.  "It's not a deal breaker with us on the courthouse… and we'll do something else with [the property]."

At the CRA meeting, the board directed City Manager Ken Hammons to meet with County Manager Ed Smith to figure out whether the two sides can salvage the deal.

Late Tuesday, Mayor Greg Brudnicki and City Commissioner Billy Rader told News 13 they're optimistic that a compromise can be worked out between the two governments.