Panama City's DIB chairman seeks to narrow down its mission

News Herald (Panama City, FL), 2014-07-13


July 13 -- PANAMA CITY -- Chairman Jim Hayden wants a Downtown Improvement Board (DIB) mission statement overhaul.

In a discussion about the job description for DIB Director Dutch Sanger on Wednesday, the group's mission statement was brought up.

"Right now we have no purpose," Hayden said. "We have no mission. We have funds that go in and funds that go out."

Fellow board members corrected Hayden that the group does have a mission statement: "The mission is improving the image of downtown Panama City and communicate its exciting potential. This includes bringing people downtown, through marketing of attractions, hosting downtown events, recruiting businesses and promoting historic preservation."

"Improving the image of downtown?" Hayden asked. "That could be getting a homeless guy to shave."

Hayden wants more specifics related to bringing awareness to artistic organizations and venues like the Visual Arts Center, P.C. Pops and Martin Theater , and he acknowledged other board members have areas of interest, as well. Bob Hurst has voiced a desire for the DIB to be more involved with historic preservation.

"Everybody seems to acknowledge that we need to maintain the historic character of downtown," Hurst said. "To me, every time they tear down historical buildings they're taking away the historical character. We might need to sit down, maybe with the commission, and define what we mean by historic character of downtown."

However, Hurst and DIB treasurer Jane Lindsey think the mission statement is fine. Lindsey's concern is what percentage of the group's funds goes to the four tenants of that statement. Sanger had produced preferred percentages for the $158,000 in tax dollars the group receives: 40 percent to marketing, 50 percent to events, 5 percent to business recruitment and 5 percent to promoting historic preservation.

"I want it to be fair and I want it to be right," Lindsey said.

The DIB acts in a supervisory role over Sanger. By specifying the board's mission, Hayden wants to create realistic expectations for the director.

"He's had his head thumped against the wall by every board before us," Hayden said. "Every time he tries to do something, he gets smacked."

A draft of the director job description includes working with other downtown organizations, working with the Community Redevelopment Agency to develop infrastructural changes, a responsibility for creating new revenue sources and working with both chambers with the goal of relocating businesses to downtown. The board discussed adding the responsibility to produce a budget at least a month before the start of the next fiscal year, procurement of grants and communication with downtown business owners on a regular basis.

Hayden said the soonest a description would be complete and ready for a vote would be the Aug. 6 meeting.

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