The Bay County Courthouse in March 2008
Location within the U.S. state of Florida
Florida's location within the U.S.
|Founded||April 24, 1913|
|Named for||St. Andrews Bay|
|Largest city||Panama City|
|• Total||1,033 sq mi (2,680 km2)|
|• Land||758 sq mi (1,960 km2)|
|• Water||275 sq mi (710 km2) 26.6%%|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||242/sq mi (93/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−6 (Central)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−5 (CDT)|
Bay County is a county on the Gulf coast in northwestern Florida. As of the 2010 census, the population was 168,852 (Estimate of 185,287 as of 1 July 2018[update]). Its county seat is Panama City.
Bay County is included in the Panama City, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area. The county is best known for its white sand beaches and emerald green water, where large pods of dolphins swim year-round. These beaches attract hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world each year.
On February 12, 1913, representatives from five towns on St. Andrews Bay met in Panama City to select a name for a proposed new county. The name Bay was selected because it was satisfactory to the majority of the citizens and descriptive of the territory that would be included. On July 1, 1913, the Legislature created Bay County from portions of Washington, Calhoun and Walton counties.
Panama City was where Gideon v. Wainwright, a 1963 US Supreme Court decision that gave all persons accused of a crime the right to an attorney, originated.
Hurricane Michael made landfall near Panama City in Bay County on October 10, 2018, as one of the strongest and most destructive hurricanes in American history, destroying a large part of the county, including many structures in Mexico Beach and Panama City.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,033 square miles (2,680 km2), of which 758 square miles (1,960 km2) is land and 275 square miles (710 km2) (26.6%) is water.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2000, there were 148,217 people, 59,597 households, and 40,466 families residing in the county. The population density was 194 people per square mile (75/km2). There were 78,435 housing units at an average density of 103 per square mile (40/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 84.17% White, 10.64% Black or African American, 0.78% Native American, 1.73% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 0.66% from other races, and 1.94% from two or more races. 2.42% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 59,597 households, out of which 30.60% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.00% were married couples living together, 12.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.10% were non-families. 26.00% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.80% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 2.92.
In the county, the population was spread out, with 24.00% under the age of 18, 8.70% from 18 to 24, 30.20% from 25 to 44, 23.70% from 45 to 64, and 13.40% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 98.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.80 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $36,092, and the median income for a family was $42,729. Males had a median income of $30,116 versus $21,676 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,700. About 9.80% of families and 13.00% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.30% of those under age 18 and 11.00% of those age 65 or over.
|Bay County Government|
|Sheriff||Tommy Ford ||Republican|
|Tax Collector||Chuck Perdue||Republican|
|Clerk of the Court||Bill Kinsaul||Republican|
|Supervisor of Elections||Mark Anderson||Republican|
|Superintendent of Schools||William Husfelt, III||Republican|
|Property Appraiser||Dan Sowell||Republican|
5 members, elected from districts (zero Democrats, five Republicans)
|3||Bill Dozier||Republican||Chair of the County Commission|
|5||Phillip "Griff" Griffits||Republican||Vice Chair of the County Commission|
According to the Secretary of State's office, Republicans are a majority of the registered voters in Bay County.
|Bay County Voter Registration & Party Enrollment as of August 31, 2017[update]|
|Political Party||Total Voters||Percentage|
|2018||72.17% 45,709||26.46% 16,757||1.37% 865|
|2014||71.79% 40,956||22.77% 12,990||5.44% 3,104|
|2010||66.39% 36,512||28.53% 15,689||5.08% 2,796|
|2006||65.26% 31,382||30.78% 14,802||3.96% 1,907|
|2002||70.02% 34,107||29.27% 14,258||0.71% 344|
|1998||69.01% 26,759||30.99% 12,017||0.00% 2|
|1994||56.87% 23,498||43.12% 17,816||0.01% 2|
Bay District Schools operates public schools serving all portions of the county except Mexico Beach, which is served by Gulf County Schools.
Deane Bozeman School
North Bay Haven Charter Academy
Palm Bay Preparatory Academy
Breakfast Point Academy
Bay Haven Charter Academy
J. R. Arnold High School (Panama City Beach)
Bay High School (Panama City)
A. Crawford Mosley High School (Lynn Haven)
Rutherford High School (Springfield) Optional
A.D. Harris High School (Panama City)
Haney Technical High School (Panama City)
New Horizons Learning Center(Lynn Haven)
Rosenwald High School(Panama City)
Everitt Middle Schoo
Jinks Middle School
Merritt Brown Middle School
Mowat Middle School
Surfside Middle School (Panama City Beach)
Callaway Elementary School
Cedar Grove Elementary School
Hiland Park Elementary School
Hutchison Beach Elementary School (Panama City Beach)
Lucille Moore Elementary School
Lynn Haven Elementary School
M. Cherry Street Elementary School
Millville Elementary School
Northside Elementary School
Oakland Terrace Elementary School
Parker Elementary School
Patronis Elementary School (Panama City Beach)
Patterson Elementary School
Southport Elementary School
Springfield Elementary School
St. Andrew Elementary School
Tommy Smith Elementary School
Tyndall Elementary School
Waller Elementary School
West Bay Elementary School
The Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport opened for commercial flights in 2010. It connects the region to several major airports in the South and Midwest.
The county operates the Baytown Trolley, which runs several routes in and around Panama City. The county also have a greyhound in Panama City.
Bay County is part of the Northwest Regional Library System (NWRLS), which also serves Gulf and Liberty Counties. The Bay County Public Library is the headquarters library for the system. The Bay County Board of Commissioners is the system's governing authority and single administrative unit.