Council Okay With Adding Jolly Roger To New Tax District

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OCEAN CITY – Jolly Roger will also be receiving support from the Mayor and Council for consideration for amusement park property tax relief, a decision that mirrors the recent support given to Trimper’s Rides.

Buddy Jenkins, chairman of the Board for Bay Shore Development Corporation, came before the Mayor and Council this week to request that the Mayor and Council provide the same consideration given to Trimper’s Rides several weeks ago when that downtown landmark requested support for the concept of a special tax district.

In December, Granville Trimper pleaded his case to the Mayor and Council, garnering support for a concept that could ease the burden that Trimper’s is currently facing with skyrocketing property tax assessments. The Mayor and Council gave full support to the concept, agreeing to send a letter to the Maryland General Assembly, outlining the town’s support for the concept of the special tax district.

This week, the consideration was expanded to include both of Ocean City’s major amusement parks.

“The amusement industry is an integral part of what makes a complete family quality experience in Ocean City. Our company is constantly striving to embellish this positive experience through our expansion, cross marketing and other innovative efforts,” said Jenkins.

Jenkins pointed out that although the entire town is suffering from increases in property tax assessments, the amusement park industry faces unique problems.

“It’s not about an arcade in a restaurant…it’s not about a mini-golf course,” Jenkins said, explaining that it is the bigger picture and variety that brings families to Ocean City.

“I love it, I enjoy it, we like what we do,” Jenkins said of the amusement park business. Despite his love for the business and visitor’s love for the family-oriented entertainment, the amusement park faces hardships that make it difficult for business to grow. Jenkins noted burdensome taxes, increases in energy costs, and increased property tax assessments as the big three that are threatening the amusement park industry and preventing it from expanding.

Jenkins acknowledged his desire to one day build an indoor water park.

“But it requires a lot of capitol and three items make it difficult to move forward in a positive manner,” he said, referring to taxes, property assessments and energy costs.

“We have more taxes, as an industry, than any other business in this town,” Jenkins said, referring to his business and Trimper’s Rides.

Jenkins added that the council’s support would not be an open-ended consideration, explaining that it would only apply to two areas of town, Jolly Roger and Trimper’s.

The legislation, if passed, would call for the creation of a special tax district. The hope is that the legislation would alleviate tax burdens for amusement parks in Ocean City, making it possible for amusement parks to remain open and hopefully expand.

The Mayor and Council gave full support to the concept, voting unanimously, with Councilman Jay Hancock absent, to give support to the concept of a special tax district for amusement parks.

Councilwoman Nancy Howard explained that she had suggested that similar properties be included when they gave support to the Trimper’s request.

“Consideration that is given to one such business should be given to others,” she said. “I do think the amusement concept is sort of unique to our particular area,” she added.

Councilman Jim Hall pointed out tax relief for certain businesses in Ocean City could bring attention to the soaring taxes in the rest of town.

“I would hope that our state legislative team gets a handle on all of our assessments, the number is just getting unwieldy,” said Hall. “I think this reverberates through the whole community.”

Councilwoman Mary Knight applauded Jenkins’ intentions.

“I am very pleased to see that you continue to keep your industry fresh — we just really appreciate that as citizens,” said Knight.

Mayor Rick Meehan suggested that the motion include a requirement that the tax relief for those properties be repaid in the event that the property use is changed. He also noted that the special tax district would include amusement parks, not amusement overlay districts, since Trimper’s is the only area of town that is considered an amusement overlay district.

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