Ocean City Today

Carozza, Mathias, Otto report to Ocean City

Legislative representatives of resort, Worcester County meet with business leaders
By Katie Tabeling | May 18, 2017

(May 19, 2017) Ocean City and Worcester County’s legislative representatives updated local business leaders on the events of the past session of the Maryland General Assembly during last week’s Economic Development Committee meeting.

Sen. Jim Mathias (D-38), Del. Mary Beth Carozza (R-38C) and Del. Charles Otto (R-38A) all sang praises of the last legislative session’s successes and how they help maintain a strong tourism economy for Worcester.

“We have $12 million tourism budget overall,” Mathias said. “I remember when Fish [Roland Powell] was mayor, and he imagined a comprehensive resort with a convention center. First, we thought we just needed mother nature to shine sun on you, but to be global, we needed to expand.”

Mathias and Carozza both pointed to the third planned expansion of the performing arts center, with $500,000 in funding, as an example of the state’s commitment to Ocean City.

“The mayor did a tremendous job testifying for this and showed that it was going to be a revenue maker for the state,” Carozza said. “That kept the project on track.”

Another win for Ocean City’s tourist economy was that Hogan’s executive order to start school after Labor Day stayed intact, Mathias said. He also argued that Ocean City’s beach also attracts people to stay here for years.

“Our tourism is our asset in what we can do for education and bringing jobs here. There’s a pretty great customer base from Salisbury University and a tremendous job base as well,” Mathias said. “When families know they can more affordably send their children here, we know we’re doing what we can to supplement another $400,000 to that college to make it more affordable and get people here.”

Carozza reported that she also pushed a bill that guaranteed increased funding for Eastern Shore community colleges, some of which like Wor-Wic had been shorted over the last few years.

She added that she was committed to working with Ocean City on the paid sick leave bill. Resort business owners pushed for a 120-day employment period for employees to qualify for the new sick leave benefits. The legislature agreed, however, to require employees who want to use their leave between 107 and 120 days to provide documentation.

“This is not over,” Carozza said. “Whatever happens, if Gov. Hogan vetoes it or not, we need a strategy.”

Otto said that while he does not directly represent Ocean City, he supported its success as a way to support other municipalities.

“We appreciate the help that you give Ocean City, because it pays for whatever opportunities that aren’t the beach, whether it’s in Snow Hill or the Pocomoke Discovery Center,” he said.

One of Otto’s priorities, a bill that slowly increased highway user revenue appropriations to Maryland towns with full funding in place by 2020, did not get the votes needed, but he was optimistic.

“It’s not where we want it to be, but it’s headed in the right direction,” Otto said.

Looking at government in a broader scope, Mathias said we should be looking at Washington D.C. and how its actions would ripple across the region. One example he pointed to was the federal government backing out of Chesapeake Bay restoration as a part of $73 million cuts from the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget.

“I hope we were all looking when they took the money out of Chesapeake Bay and it was put back in,” Mathias said, referencing Congress’s pledge to restore the funding. “You let those waters get foul, those waters we play in and where commercial fishermen make their living, we’re all in trouble.”

Ocean City and Worcester County officials also thanked the Economic Development Committee members for playing a vocal role in this year’s session. Carozza said that members’ comments to the General Assembly carried a lot of weight.

“When you come to Annapolis, call or send emails, it reinforces the strong positions we take on behalf of the Ocean City business community and employees,” she s

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