Beach Communities collaborating on Employee Interchange Agreement
Panama City Beach and Mexico Beach are bookends – sister cities on opposite ends of Bay County.
The two communities have always worked closely together, and that bond was strengthened after Mexico Beach was devastated by Hurricane Michael last year. Panama City Beach provided much-needed support to Mexico Beach, loaning the City a team of its firefighters last November, in order to provide their first responders a well-deserved break. When there was discussion of asking the Legislature to approve an additional half-cent sales tax to assist Bay County in hurricane relief, Panama City Beach pledged those funds to Mexico Beach’s recovery. That sales tax did not come to fruition.
Once again, Panama City Beach has the opportunity to assist our friends in Mexico Beach. When PCB officials learned of the untimely death of Mexico Beach City Administrator Andy Anderson last weekend, Mayor Mike Thomas reached out to Mexico Beach Mayor Al Cathey to offer condolences and assistance.
Discussions followed with the legal counsel of both cities and City Manager Mario Gisbert, who is retiring as PCB City Manager effective March 18, 2020. The two cities came up with a plan to share Gisbert’s services.
On Thursday, Nov. 21, the Mexico Beach City Council met and unanimously approved an Employee Interchange Agreement for Gisbert’s services. This agreement will be brought before the PCB City Council for approval on December 2. If approved by PCB officials, Gisbert will officially step down as PCB City Manager and become the Assistant to the City Manager for PCB, and take on the position of Interim City Administrator of Mexico Beach.
This agreement would be effective December 3 through Gisbert’s retirement date with Panama City Beach.
Gisbert’s salary and benefits for his time spent in Mexico Beach will be reimbursed by Mexico Beach. It is anticipated he will work in Mexico Beach three days a week.
“Mario has the experience of working with FEMA and can be an asset to Mexico Beach during this critical time,” said Mayor Cathey. “The town has more than $200 million in FEMA projects, and we are in a critical stage of our recovery.”
Mayor Thomas said he is happy the City can assist Mexico Beach.
“Mario has spent much of his career working in a coastal community and has had dealings with all the agencies that are coming together to help rebuild Mexico Beach,” said Thomas. “Mexico Beach and Panama City Beach are the bookends that support Bay County.”
The City of Panama City Beach is currently searching for Gisbert’s replacement. The names and resumes of up to 10 finalists will be given to the PCB City Council next week. They are expected to narrow the list to five candidates to bring in for interviews. Those five will be selected at the December 2 meeting.
The PCB City Council will appoint an Interim City Manager for Gisbert on December 2. The Council meets at 1 p.m. in the new City Hall, 17007 Panama City Beach Parkway.
Public Information Officer Debbie Ward can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (850) 233-5100, Ext. 2261.