Ocean City Today

Commissioner blasts county on extra cash

OC left out of distribution of savings to other areas
By Brian Gilliland | May 17, 2018
Joe Mitrecic

(May 18, 2018) Ocean City Commissioner Joe Mitrecic had some choice words for his fellow county officials Tuesday as they determined what to do with the surplus generated from spending cuts offered during last week’s budget work session.

“I’m disappointed the Ocean City requested tourism grant was denied,” he said, because the resort’s investment in advertising itself along with West Ocean City businesses has paid dividends for the county in the form of increased room tax revenue.

The resort had asked for an additional $100,000 over its previous allocation to help cover the expense to advertising the resort area, which also includes an increasing number of mainland establishments.

During the review process, the county budget committee of Harold Higgins, county administrator, Kathy Whited, budget manager and Phil Thompson, treasurer, zeroed out the additional request. The other commissioners did not reinstate the funding during the budget work session.

The county also refused to fund security bollards to reduce the risk of unauthorized vehicle access to the Boardwalk at a cost of $600,000 over two years.

“Those are arguably the most used and populated 27 blocks on any given night in Ocean City,” Mitrecic said. Previously, he noted the resort and county could face serious repercussions should an incident occur without the increased security.

“It’s shortsighted and then the county had the audacity to ask Ocean City to help fund the inlet study while they deny this,” he said.

To fund the study that hopes to determine the cause of Ocean City inlet shoaling,n, damaging commercial fishing boats and threatening to complicate ingress and egress for recreational vessels, the federal government and the Army Corps of Engineers require non-federal partners.

Worcester County and the state have agreed to pay a share, but the resort refused.  Initially, Mitrecic pointed out that they were not asked to participate, but when a letter asking the city to send a reduced share of a one-time $200,000 payment, resort Mayor Rick Meehan rejected the idea.

“The town believes that this project benefits all of Worcester County and should be a county-funded project,” Meehan said. “The commercial harbor is located in Worcester County and this project benefits West Ocean City, Ocean City, Ocean Pines and surrounding areas.”

Meehan said the resort already contributed 58 percent of the county’s revenue to allow it to fund the project in the first place, which should be more than enough.

From the funds trimmed during last week’s budget hearing, the commissioners recovered about $832,000. The commissioners decided, 6-1 with Mitrecic against, to buy two dump trucks with snowplows, at a cost of about $155,500 each, a roads grader for $385,000, a replacement trailer for the mosquito control office for $25,000 and to fund improvements at the Royal Plus office in Snow Hill while it is occupied by the Worcester County Board of Elections for about $40,500.

The remaining $71,000 was put into the county’s retirement program.

The expenditures rebalanced the fiscal 2019 county budget at about $190 million.


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