OCEAN CITY – The Mayor and City Council took action on several items at meetings this month, including a budget amendment, recoating work for the Boardwalk arch, a sole-source purchase of an ambulance stretcher loading system and a modification to the Caroline Street raffle rotation list, among other items.
According to Budget Manager Jennie Knapp, the budget amendment appropriates an additional $1.6 million from fund balance to cover council-approved expenditures for canal dredging, street paving, maintenance items and the purchase of an ambulance and a Boardwalk sweeper. An additional $530,000 of appropriated fund balance is included to cover items included in the FY13 budget, but were not purchased.
Items included in the budget amendment are the town’s local match for the Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus for the Fire Company, Tourism Advisory Board funds and prior year purchase orders. Additionally, recognition was given to grants including the state tourism grant and county grants exceeding the budgeted amount.
Knapp added parking revenue estimates were reduced to account for meters that have been removed as a result of a petition effort throughout the last summer season.
The amount taken from prior year reserves increases $2,138,351 from $247,066 in the FY14 adopted budget to $2,385,417. Fund balance remains at or above the 15 percent of annual expenditures policy target. Appropriations of $1.6 million to cover capital projects, maintenance items and vehicles were approved by the council on Oct. 1, 2013.
The council voted unanimously to adopt FY14 Budget Amendment #1.
Boardwalk Arch Recoating
City Engineer Terry McGean explained, the Mayor and City Council appropriated $40,000 from FY13 fund balance towards recoating the Boardwalk arch on N. Division Street.
Bids for the work were opened at the Feb. 3 Mayor and Council Work Session and six bids were received.
The low bid of $22,000 by All States Construction was substantially under both the estimate, which was $40,000, and the next low bid. Staff has met with the low bidder and reviewed the scope of work with him and his sub-contractor. The low bidder has included all items in the contract specifications and is not requesting any substitutions. Therefore, staff recommended the award to All States Construction.
The council voted 6-0 to approve the recommendation.
Ambulance Stretcher Loader
Ocean City Assistant Fire Chief Chris Shaffer explained the Fire/EMS Division would like to purchase a stretcher loading system for the new paramedic unit currently on order.
“This piece of equipment would greatly reduce the chance of back injury to our personnel,” Shaffer said.
The system carries an estimated cost of $18,750 for the system to be installed, and, according to Budget Manager Jennie Knapp, the piece of equipment will be paid for through recognition of county grant funds in excess of the budget.
The council voted 6-0 to approve the request.
Company Contract Extended
Finance Administrator Martha Bennett explained SB & Company, LLC has been the Town of Ocean City’s auditor for the last five years. The five-year contract expired at the end of 2013, and SB & Company has offered to extend the contract for the next three years with the proposed fees, $51,000 in Fiscal Year 2014, $53,000 in FY15 and $54,000 in FY16. The FY13 audit fee was $50,000.
“By keeping the same auditing services, we keep continuity and thus ensure stable auditing practices,” said Bennett, recommending the town accept the offer by SB & Company to serve as the town’s auditor based on its performance and favorable fee proposal.
In a letter addressed to Bennett, SB & Company stated it proposed to audit the basic financial statements of governmental activities, the business-type activities, each major fund, and the aggregate remaining fund information of the town as of and for the fiscal years ending June 30, 2014, 2015 and 2016, and the related notes to the financial statements, which collectively comprise the town’s basic financial statements. In addition, audit the town’s compliance over major federal award programs for the periods ending June 30, 2014, 2015 and 2016.
The council voted 6-0 with Council Secretary Mary Knight absent to approve the recommendation.
Caroline Street Pad Rotation
City Clerk Kelly Almond explained, in April 2013, the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians Organization surrendered its 2013 position on the Caroline Street Pad where items are auctioned off throughout the summer, such as cars, because it did not have the staff.
As a result, Allmond offered the position to the Lions Club, who was scheduled for 2014, but it declined.
Ultimately, the Ladies Auxiliary of the Elks #2645, who was also scheduled for 2014, accepted and combined forces with the Ocean City Elks Lodge, which was why there were only two booths last year.
City Auditor Susan Childs and Allmond carefully reviewed the rotation history to make sure the modification kept the list in good order.
The council voted 6-0 to approve the request.
Grant Application Approved
According to Superintendent of Transportation George Thornes, on an annual basis the Transportation Department applies for grant funding on behalf of the Mayor and City Council. The request for funding is sent to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA). The town anticipates grant funds of $2,988,000.
Both agencies have public hearing guidelines or the opportunity to request a public hearing if one is not scheduled. In the past, a public hearing has been held to afford the public a venue to comment on the grant application. This year a notice to Request A
Thornes concluded a public hearing was published however there was not any correspondence from the public requesting a hearing.
The Mayor and City Council voted 6-0, with Councilman Joe Mitrecic out of the room, to authorize the resolution for the submission of the MTA for grants.
Cigarette Penalty Examined
Councilman Brent Ashley last month asked Councilman Doug Cymek, chairman of the Police Commission, to have the commission discuss having the penalty for flicking cigarettes out of car windows become heftier in Ocean City after coming across news out of Illinois.
A new law in Illinois that went into effect on Jan.1 has a first time offender for flicking a cigarette out of a window get a class B misdemeanor with fines up to $1,500. If caught three times, an offender would face a class 4 felony, with a $2,500 fine and up to three years in prison.
“Several weeks ago, I brought up the issue of flicking cigarette butts out of car windows. I have had many comments from the community that supports some action on this. I have had communications from City Solicitor Guy Ayres that in his opinion, our present litter ordinance is broad enough to cover this offense,” Ashley said this week.
Ocean City Police Chief Ross Buzzuro responded the department is looking into two area of Ocean City code where flicking cigarettes can be incorporated, littering and discarding objects from a motor vehicle.
“Whether it is someone walking down the street disposing of trash, or from a car, it is something we can certainly take a look at and start to enforce,” Buzzuro said. “We want to reinforce the cleanliness and respect of our town. As we approach the beginning of the season, it is something that we can certainly address.”