Code enforcement bookkeeping moves in-house
The Bay County Clerk of Courts is no longer performing code enforcement administration for municipalities, so Panama City Beach officials have brought the service in-house. The change comes at the request of the County and will affect all municipalities who contracted with the County Clerk’s office to perform these services.
Up until January 1, the City would file its issued citations with the Clerk, who would then send notices, receive and schedule requests for appeal, accept payments and file notices and satisfactions of liens. Effective January 1, those duties are now assumed by the Panama City Beach City Clerk or the Clerk’s designee, by passage of Ordinance 1488 during last week’s City Council meeting. The ordinance only changes the performer of these duties and makes no changes to the process itself.
Most code enforcement cases commence after a code officer sends a courtesy notice and warns a property owner that failure to correct a violation will result in a fine. If they do not, the code enforcement officer issues a Civil Notice of Violation which assigns a monetary penalty and correction date for the violation.
If the violator disputes the violation and charge, it can be appealed to the hearing officer, who can uphold the penalty, modify it or reverse the violation entirely. The hearing officer’s decision can be appealed to the Bay County Circuit Court. The City’s current hearing officer is Russ Ramey, a local attorney. He hears between 20-30 appeals a year.
If upheld, or not appealed, the violator must pay the penalty and correct the violation. If the violation is not corrected by the allotted time, additional penalties accrue. If the penalty goes unpaid, it can become a lien against the violator’s property.
Public Information Officer Debbie Ward can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (850) 233-5100, Ext. 2261.