Not Time For Gas Tax Hike
The latest Blue Ribbon Commission on Transportation funding has recently announced its recommendations to significantly increase the gas tax and to double vehicle registration and inspection fees, taking over $900 million per year out of Marylanders pockets. While some jobs may well be created, there is no doubt that some will also be lost due to the significant impact on the cost of moving goods and food, traveling to work and transporting children to school and activities. In this current economy with extremely high gas prices already, families don’t have unlimited funds, so increasing their costs in one area will require cuts in another area of family spending. The net result will create more of a financial burden for families and small businesses in the midst of economic hard times.
Protecting the Transportation Trust Fund with a constitutional amendment is absolutely essential to prevent our elected representatives from siphoning off the motor fuel taxes paid by motorists. Moreover, the county and city governments have suffered because more than $1.5 billion, yes BILLION, of transportation revenues necessary for local transportation needs has been diverted for other purposes not even related to highways and bridges. An additional $50 million is still owed to the TTF! But the biggest problem facing the Transportation Trust Fund is that billions of dollars of motorist-paid funds are being spent on two major mass transit systems. About 50% of the funds that reach the TTF are spent to cover operating costs of these mass transit systems. The fares paid by transit riders cover only a fraction of the operating costs. Yet mass transit systems handle less than 10% of local travel. Highways and bridges are choked with the remaining 90% of the traffic.
Some on the Blue Ribbon Commission naively suggested that the new tax increases may not be passed on to the consumer by the gas station dealers and their suppliers. Well I can tell you that after having worked in the oil industry for over 40 years, the tax increase will be passed directly to consumers. These dealers are small businesses, with very small operating margins, and they cannot afford to absorb an increase in the excise tax. The same applies to small delivery and trucking businesses and families in regard to the proposed increased cost of inspections and registration fees.
Now is not the time to take more money out of Marylander’s pockets. Our State Government needs to find other alternatives, including living within its means.
(The writer is the president of the Mid-Atlantic Petroleum Distributors Association.)
On the evening of Monday, Nov. 7, the Ocean City Mayor and Council will hold a public hearing on Phase II, the Multi-Use Auditorium/Performing
Arts addition to the Ocean City Convention Center. The general public is invited to attend an informative “Tour” of the proposed Convention Center auditorium renovation at 4 p.m. on the same day, Monday, Nov. 7.
We believe that most of our elected officials support this final Phase II addition. The impact study, which the council ordered, supports the sustainability, the benefits and need for such a venue. The study showed that a multi-purpose auditorium with proper seating, lighting and acoustics would not only expand convention opportunities and efficiency, it would also begin to attract residents and the regional population to the Convention Center for entertainment, performances and community productions.
The Phase II renovation has received overwhelming support from the business community because business owners know that individuals who attend functions at the Convention Center tend to eat, sleep, “discover” and return to Ocean City in the future.
The Governor and the Maryland Stadium Authority support the renovation as well. In fact, they are so confident that the renovation will have a positive impact on Ocean City and Maryland’s economy that they will fund 25% of construction costs and will continue covering 50% of the operating costs of the entire facility.
A combination of these dedicated state funds and the existing .5% food & beverage tax (a tax which can only be used for the Convention Center), fully funds this project, with no new tax burden on Ocean City residents.
We hope that for all of these reasons; for the good of the Ocean City community, its businesses, its economy and its future, our elected council will unanimously approve Phase II of the Roland E. Powell Convention Center renovation on Nov. 7. We encourage all srts supporters, residents and business owners to attend the Nov. 7 Ocean City Council public hearing to show your support.
(The writer is the co-chair of the Ocean City Cultural Arts Advisory Board.)
October was once generally thought of as a month for football and pumpkin picking – but, holy pink, how that has changed.
The American Cancer Society’s "Breast Cancer Awareness" campaign has gained momentum throughout the nation, but here on the Eastern Shore it has become a powerful, unstoppable force.
That force was felt Oct. 15 at our local "Making Strides Against Breast Cancer" 5K Walk/Run hosted by Hooters on the Boardwalk and 5th Street. More than 1,000 walkers and runners from Worcester County and beyond raised close to $90,000. To understand the significance of that number, we are one of the top largest grossing first-year community "Strides" events of all time in the nation — in the nation. What an amazing difference we’ve already made in our inaugural year.
Moreover, what a reflection on our community, our leaders, business owners and volunteers! For those of you who were there, you know it was an incredible day. The Boardwalk was a sea of pink and our guests were enthusiastic, determined and clearly grounded in the belief that it takes an army to "fight the fight" and do whatever we can to make sure breast cancer will, one day, not be a life threatening illness.
Perhaps the greatest example of this determination was displayed by "Team Corron", in honor of Jennifer Corron, a teacher at Worcester Preparatory School who recently finished treatment. Over 100 Worcester Preparatory students and their parents participated in "Strides" making it the largest team registered. Not only is this testimony to just how well Mrs. Corron is loved by her Worcester family, but how personal we all take it when a colleague, friend, relative or loved one is diagnosed with breast cancer.
Top earning teams contributing to "Strides" success include "Wonder Women", from the mid-shore area, with $11,672; Candy Kitchen with $8,237; "Team Hope" in support of Hope Palmer, an associate with Ocean City Parks and Recreation Department; "Life is Sweet at 40" created by "Pink Ribbon" Chair Chris Butler, who used the opportunity to personify the American Cancer Society’s claim as the "Official Sponsor of Birthdays." (www.morebirthdays.com).
"Team Kathy", in memory and honor of former "Pink Ribbon" Chair Kathy Mathias, was also among the top fundraising teams. Senator James Mathias spoke briefly at the "Strides" event sending a passionate, bitter-sweet message to the crowd thanking them for their support, thoughts and prayers. Mathias concluded his remarks by commenting on the perfect weather for "Strides" joking, "I heard God put Kathy on the weather committee."
The success of "Strides" was further punctuated by the event’s flagship sponsors, those who pledged more than $2,000. A special thank you to Bahia Marina Fish Tales Bar & Grill, Candy Kitchen and Walgreens of Ocean Pines.
Those "behind-the-scenes" include the Ocean City Fire Department who helped set up for the "Strides" event and the Town of Ocean City that helped with street closures and provided police support.
A heartfelt thank you to two very special ladies, Chris Butler, our local American Cancer Society Pink Ribbon Chair, whose guidance, support and coordination of "Strides" never wavered, and Kathy Decker of the American Cancer Society of North Worcester County whose leadership is unrivaled.
On behalf of the entire "Making Strides Against Breast Cancer" committee, thank you. We all look forward to next year’s event and know with a community like ours and leaders like those mentioned above we will be an unstoppable, pink force.
(The writer if the chair of the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Committee.)