OCEAN CITY – It’s been said that you never know how much you will receive unless you ask nicely, and even in dire economic times, Mayor Rick Meehan gave that notion “a go”.
Worries about funding cuts may have prompted Meehan to send a letter to the County Commissioners just weeks before they meet to discuss how much grant money Ocean City will receive this year.
The commissioners asked all departments to cut their budgets by 3 percent and it is expected that the annual money granted to the local municipalities will be at a similar percentage decline. Meehan said in his March 18 letter the town wants to be “part of the solution”.
“Our goal in Ocean City is to work with the County Commissioners regardless of the issue and as we continue to try to build that relationship. We want to hold hands with them and get through these tough budgetary concerns that we face as a town, and the county faces as a whole,” said Meehan.
Ocean City was granted $4.26 million last year and as a result of the 3-percent dip in funds, Meehan’s letter requested $4.17 million spread out over nine categories.
Meehan’s letter also requested that the town of Ocean City be granted all of the “pass-through” money received last year ($131,200) and the same funding based on a current spending formula for the emergency medical services and volunteer fire out of town calls ($1.17 million).
The mayor also alluded to the tax differential subject, which provides relief for Ocean City taxpayers for services the town provides outside of the resort. However, County Commissioner President Louise Gulyas said it wasn’t the time to talk about tax differential, but remains realistic in hoping that Ocean City’s request is granted.
“Personally, I want them to get the same money as last year, but I don’t know what’s going to happen with this budget,” said Gulyas.
Gulyas estimated that the “pass-through” funds and the EMS funds will more than likely stay the same for Ocean City because the formula to disperse those funds is “set in place.”
Gulyas also noted that she was notified last Friday there would be a $1.6 million cut in state income tax revenue, leaving the funding for the municipalities even more concerning.
Gulyas also dispelled ideas that Meehan’s letter might have been a subtle plea for money while pledging to be a team player. “We don’t know if it’s going to have to be more than a 3 percent cut, but I don’t think that letter was any sort of an olive branch,” said Gulyas. “They have always wanted to work with us. I thought it was a good letter with fair requests.”