Since Hurricane Michael devastated Panama City on Oct. 10, 2018, demolitions in the city have been moving at a brisk pace.
PANAMA CITY — As Panama City officials move forward with code enforcement one year after Hurricane Michael devastated the city, statistics on demolitions of properties carried out in that time have become available.
EPCI Code Administration Services, contracted by Panama City to handle permits for demolition, has issued 363 demolition permits within city limits since Oct. 10, 2018, according to Panama City Public Information Officer Caitlin Lawrence.
EPCI, a privately owned company, is subject to Florida’s public records laws when it pertains to work done and paid for by public entities.
After code enforcement began in Panama City on Oct. 11, demolitions are expected to pick up at a brisk rate. Three new magistrate judges have been hired by the city to handle the influx of hearings.
Homeowners undergoing inspections can also anticipate another change to the process.
According to Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki, an ordinance passed in the last few years will let city officials add fees incurred from cleanups to the property tax bill for homeowners instead of placing those fees on a lien, as has been done in the past.
The difference is that when a lien is due, the money for the cleanup fees doesn’t have to be paid until the property is sold. By placing the money on the property tax bill, it’s due when the taxes are and makes it easier for the city to recoup the money.
The ordinance won’t officially go into effect until city commissioners are able to vote and approve it, Lawrence said.