Now that the Ocean City Council’s leadership group has made its reasons known for ousting former City Manager Dennis Dare, some sort of meeting of the minds to move ahead must take place.
Sure, there are many who are still appalled by the council majority’s actions and the process it underwent to force Dare out, and many more are even increasingly outraged at the reasons they expressed.
Instead of the previous calls of “cowards” from the audience heard earlier this month, most critics now are simply calling the council majority “liars”.
The fact here is that acrimony and distaste needs to be put aside for now. It shouldn’t be forgotten by any means, but the city is in dire straits right now. Its wellbeing needs to take center stage.
In many respects, the best thing to do from here is focus on the present and the near future. Dare is out as city manager, and City Hall is still dealing with the shock of how he was removed and some are still searching for more legitimate explanations as to why. The problem is they will likely never get more than they did this week.
This is where the Citizens For Ocean City group comes into play and its plan to hold a rally at the Clarion on Monday. The group has a “Keep It Positive” philosophy and seeks an open discussion of issues so the electorate is informed and educated. This movement is critical, and it needs to be a success.
Even without Dare’s firing, Ocean City faces some serious problems.
Property values are still plummeting, meaning tax revenue will be down considerably from the last assessment cycle. A lot has happened in three years and the likely end result is individual property owners will see their property assessment decline to recent historical lows.
That will result in a tremendous deficit between revenues and expenditures. It’s just a question of how much it will actually be. More spending cuts will have to be made, and the chances are more fees will be increased as well. Since it’s an election year, taxes will likely not be considered but there will surely be a change in the constant yield tax rate.
The city needs to move quickly to fill the city manager’s seat. Mayor Rick Meehan can only fill in temporarily and it’s asking too much of the other department heads to continue to pick up the slack.
In the meantime, Monday’s forum is a time for citizens to come together. Not to protest Dare’s firing because that is history now, but to get on the same page and hopefully agree to become a more active and intelligent electorate that wants to play a role in city politics.
Oh, and it wouldn’t hurt if they actually voted on a consistent basis, too.