OCEAN CITY – City Manager David Recor presented his version of a balanced budget on Tuesday, kicking off what will be a week of budget meetings between staff and the Mayor and City Council.
“I am pleased to present the City Manager’s Fiscal Year 2015 Proposed Operating Budget for the Town of Ocean City, which totals $151,361,282,” Recor’s budget message states. “The Proposed Operating Budget includes the Town’s General Fund, all of the Enterprise Funds and Internal Service Funds in addition to the Pension & OPEB Trust. These spending plans reflect the priorities identified by the Mayor and Council’s Strategic Planning Action Items and a commitment to continue to provide a high level of service to our residents and enhance our visitor experience while preserving our organizations long-term financial viability. The Fiscal Year 2015 Proposed Operating Budget is balanced and confirms that our distinguished community is clean, safe, healthy and strong place where the quality of life is unsurpassed.”
Recor’s proposed budget highlights many key components starting with expenditures for all funds totaling $151,361,282, which is an increase of 2.5 percent from FY14. General Fund revenues and expenditures equal $79,351,270, which is an increase of 3 percent from FY14.
Assessed value of real property equals $8,517,160,880, which is an increase of $28,029,607 or .33 percent. The town is currently in the third-year of a three-year assessment cycle. Jan. 1, 2015 is the first year of a new cycle and all Ocean City residential and commercial property, with the exception of a section of commercial property from 25th Street north to the Delaware line, will be reassessed. That section of commercial property will be reassessed in year two. In year three, Ocean City properties will be reassessed to reflect altercations, additions, deletions and/or adjustments.
Property tax revenue projections are based on the constant yield ad valorem tax rate of 47.01 cents per $100 of assessed valuation plus one cent, or 48.01 cents, which generated $42,711,465, including personal property and corporation taxes. One cent on the real property tax rate is equivalent to $851,795. The constant yield rate would bring in the same amount of revenue as the year prior.
The proposed budget includes use of $775,000 in General Fund Balance for Capital Improvement Project funding — $500,000 for canal dredging $175,000 for bulkhead replacement, and $100,000 of special appropriation for healthcare as previously approved by the Mayor and City Council.
The budget also includes $1,871,277 in the Street Paving Fund, and Capital Improvement Project expenditures for General Fund supported projects that total $2,371,361, which represents 3 percent of General Fund expenditures.
Next Recor highlighted the budget provides an FY11 step increase on July 1, 2014 and FY15 step increase on Jan. 1, 2015, equivalent to a 2.33-percent average salary adjustment for eligible Fraternal Order of Police bargaining unit employees totaling $164,676.
The budget provides an FY15 step increase on July 1, 2014, equivalent to a 1.53-percent average salary adjustment for eligible fire/EMS bargaining unit employees totaling $79,631.
Additionally, it provides an FY15 step increase in July 1, 2014, equivalent to a 2.89-percent average salary adjustment for eligible general non-bargaining unit employees totaling $524,242.
Recor furthered the proposed budget eliminates, adds and converts several positions as well as provides $4,500 to resume production of a Fall Newsletter, which will be combined with the Annual Report to Citizens; water usage rates will not be increased; increases the weekend Spring/Summer golf package rate by $4 at Eagle’s Landing Golf Course; and reduces the General Fund transfer to the Transportation Fund by $1,327,606, or 77 percent, by eliminating the $1 bus fare.
The proposed budget does maintain the General Fund Balance consistent with the Mayor and City Council’s policy of 15 percent of previous year General Fund expenditures equivalent to $11.9 million.
“The FY15 Proposed Budget balances a variety of needs and wants, focuses both short and long term, and reflects Strategic Plan priorities and tactical results. I am pleased with the proposal. A lot of hard work, energy and effort have gone into getting it ready for your review. The departments are ready to work with you, and we look forward to it,” Recor said.
Council President Lloyd Martin gathered so far the Mayor and City Council is in support of the proposed budget.
“It looks like a forward looking budget. As we move forward we are always thinking about what may happen, what could happen, and I think that is all because of our staff and what they do. I believe the council is very supportive,” he said.
Budget meetings started on Thursday and are scheduled through the week with a budget wrap-up session beginning next Thursday to conclude on Friday.
The entire budget and calendar are available at www.oceancitymd.gov.