Ocean City Today
https://oceancitytoday.villagesoup.com/p/1704909

Resident questions OC expansion plans

Readers' Forum
Nov 16, 2017

 

 

printed 11/17/2017

 

Editor,

The Mayor &  City Council of the Town of Ocean City are on the verge of borrowing $28 million by selling General Obligation Bonds.

The Council unanimously passed Ordinance 2017-17 on first reading on Nov. 6. Second reading and passage is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 20.

The town plans to spend $14 million on another expansion of the convention center, with the state of Maryland putting in an additional $20.4 million, for a total cost of $34.4 million. The town plans to spend $11 million on the Public Works & Transit Facility Project.

Federal funds are earmarked to contribute another $18 million for a whopping $29 million project.  The Public Works South Facility will cost the town another $3 million.

The town already gave up valuable space in the convention center to build the Performing Arts Center. Now they want to add another 30,000 square feet of exhibit space. The feasibility study raises a number of red flags that question whether such an expansion is feasible.

City officials will tell us the food and beverage tax will pay for this expansion. However, we pay that tax every time we go out to eat in Ocean City. Furthermore, we subsidize the operating costs of the convention center every year with an average of $2.7 million with state and town tax dollars. With the expansion, that subsidy will likely increase. If the food and beverage tax formula ever dries up, the debt service falls back on the taxpayer.

The Public Works & Transit Facility Project is not a necessity. This construction calls for an $8 million employee parking garage and a $3.4 million bus storage facility. The plan also calls for a $4.8 million administration building to replace one that was built in 1984.

An employee parking garage is nice, but is it really needed?  A bus storage facility is nice, but most municipal buses throughout the state sit out in the open year round. Finally, what is wrong with an addition to the existing administration building, as opposed to tearing down that structure and replacing it with a brand new building?

The total cost of these projects in federal, state and town dollars exceeds $66 million. The Mayor & City Council are about to spend $28 million of that amount on projects that we really do not need. When is the spending binge going to stop? When are elected officials going to handle public funds, like we handle our private funds?

Vincent dePaul Gisriel, Jr.

Ocean City

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