Ocean City News In Brief

OCEAN CITY — In the
brief this week, Ocean City’s fiscal year 2011 budget passed through the second
and final reading, the undomesticated animal or “iguana man’s” law gets the
final nod after some finishing touches and the City Council approves a new logo
for a new clean beach initiative.

OC Budget Passes By Split Vote

It may have just barely
passed, but town officials are breathing a slight sigh of relief after passing
the fiscal year 2011 budget on Monday night on second and final reading.

Council members have all
taken turns speaking about how difficult this year’s budget process has been,
but despite the fact that they lowered the tax rate from the proposed 40.5
cents per $100 assessed valuation to 39.5 cents, which is the same as last
year’s tax rate, the council vote on the budget remained split on Monday night
at 4-3, with council members Margaret Pillas, Joe Hall and Jim Hall in
opposition.

All three council
members have taken umbrage with the fact that a study has not been presented
concerning salary structure and benefit packages for new hires, and Councilman
Joe Hall had wanted the tax rate to be lowered to 39 cents, which he believed
could have been achieved through cutting town employee salaries by 2.5 percent.

In order to trim a cent
from the tax rate, the council needed to find a little more than a million
dollars in additional savings or added revenue to the so-called bottom line.

Heading into the budget
process, the town had already cut millions, increased fees, and restructured
many governmental departments, but the council found the money that it needed
to trim the tax rate by a penny, or about 2.5% in the median tax bill.

“What we were able to do
with this budget is an unbelievable achievement in this economy, said Mayor
Rick Meehan. “We came into the final weeks of the budget trying to merely hold
the line (at 40.5) but we found a way to get it back to where it was last
year.  So, I think this is one of the
best budgets I’ve ever seen in Ocean City.”

‘Iguana Man’ Law Goes Into Effect

Iguanas and other
assorted undomesticated animals are now banned from Ocean City streets after
council passed an amendment to its law which will also make it against town law
for retailers to sell any frog, lizard, or reptile longer than four inches.

As a result of what has
become a bizarre story that has, for whatever reason, gotten widespread
coverage in regional and even national publications, the council acted on
apparent public concern over a man and his iguana roaming the Ocean City
Boardwalk several weeks ago.

Joseph “Wayne” Short,
and his four-foot-long iguana named Hilary had allegedly scared some Boardwalk
pedestrians to the point that they called city council members and demanded a
change in the town’s law.

Prior to Monday, the law
allowed so-called undomesticated animals in people’s homes in Ocean City by
permit, but never addressed whether they were allowed on city streets.

Although much of the
attention has been about the man and his iguana, the council argues that it was
trying to create a much clearer precedent to ensure that there was some sort of
a language to prohibit unusual animals from roaming Ocean City’s streets.

“I think the intention
was, if we don’t limit it to something, we’re going to have other animals on
the Boardwalk, like, this is my talking horse, and this is my fox that walks
backward and this is my snake that wraps around my neck. This was really aimed
at big pets that could be scary, not necessarily an iguana," Council Jim Hall
said.

New Logo Unveiled For Can

Surfrider Foundation
member Terry Steimer believes that cigarette butts on the beach has become a
huge problem that needs to be addressed in a similar way that his group did
when it came up with the “Please Leave Only Your Footprints” campaign five
years ago.

The council shot down
his first idea several weeks ago, apparently taking umbrage with the slogan’s
use of the word “butt”, so Steimer went to Stephen Decatur High School and
tasked the students to come up with a hip logo and slogan that will be placed
on 30 cigarette receptacles.

The council voted for
the sticker to read “Think Green, Throw Away Your Nicotine.” Some of the
slogans the council passed on included, “don’t be a pig, throw away your cig”
and “cig on the ground, cig on the ground, don’t be a fool with your cig on the
ground.”

 

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