Air Show Participant A Waste Of Money
The Ocean City Air Show included an F-22 fighter, a plane that has no combat role, cost $500 million per plane and is an example of the worst fraud and waste of today’s military-industrial complex.
Senator John McCain summed up the F-22 program like this: “Facts are stubborn things,” McCain said. “[The F-22] has not flown a single combat mission … I don’t think the F-22 will ever be seen in the combat it was designed to counter, because that threat is no longer in existence.” Senator McCain goes on to say: “There are a lot of airshows around the country that would appreciate fly-bys.”
So now the taxpayers are paying $49,000 per hour to have this aircraft appear at a show. How many hours were required for the Ocean City Air Show? Is this really the best use for $500 million — an expensive stunt plane? I would encourage the promoters of the Ocean City Air Show to ask the US Air Force to not bring the $500 million plane to any future air shows. Grind these planes up and recycle the materials before they cost us even more money while threatening the lives of the pilots who fly them.
The F-22 has an “oxygen problem” that killed Captain Jeff Haney when he lost oxygen and crashed in the F-22. It is time to cancel all future F-22 flights and stop the losses associated with this “deadly” fighter — deadly to the pilot.
Constant Yield Or Political Theft?
Constant Yield is a concept defined in a Maryland law [Maryland Tax – Property, Section 6-308] that allows local governments to change tax rates automatically without a specific vote when property values vary. When property values drop, a government can increase the tax rate by the same percentage, thus keeping the government’s flow of revenue roughly constant. When values rise, the rate should then drop. But is Constant Yield applied consistently and fairly? Or is it a one-way street to an ever larger tax burden on the citizens?
In 2004, total property tax revenue for the Town of Ocean City was $25,978,629 and the property tax rate was 51 cents per $100 of assessed value, according to OC CAFR 2014, pages 122-123. In 2005, revenues went up 11.3% to $28,893,748 and the property tax rate went down from 51 cents to 48 cents, or only 5.88%. If “Constant Yield” were applied correctly, the 2005 tax rate should have gone down by 11.3%, or 5.76 cents, to 45.24 cents per $100 of value.
The next year, 2006, OC tax revenue went up to $33,079,077 for an increase of 14.5% in revenues. The property tax rate under Constant Yield should have declined an equal percentage, or another 6.56 cents, to 38.7 cents per $100 of value. It didn’t. Instead, the tax rate was reduced from 48 cents to 47 cents, or about 2.1 percent. As a result, OC taxpayers paid tax at 47 cents per $100 rather than the 38.7 cents called for by our laws. That’s 21% higher annually than it should have been.
The failure to reduce property tax rates proportionately to account for the government’s increases in assessments continued in 2007 and 2008. Tax assessments increased 21.4% and 14.8%, but rate adjustments that Constant Yield required still lagged at 8.5% and 4.7% respectively. We the people were cheated again and again by the political failure to obey the Constant Yield law.
In 2009, OC property tax revenues grew 28% and peaked at $47,881,933. Had Constant Yield been applied as the law requires, that rate would have been 18.64 cents. Instead it was more than double at 38 cents.
Of course we must account for new construction to compare apples to apples. Let’s assume a 10% increase in the value of new construction over the period 2004-2009 (this would be 45 blocks of new construction). This would have brought the Constant Yield rate adjusted for new construction up 10% to 20.5 cents in 2009. When accounting for inflation, which was 11.36% or 2.33 cents according to the federal BLS calculator from 2004-09, our Constant Yield rate in 2009 should have been 22.83 cents, not 38 cents. This is an unwarranted surcharge of over 15 cents, or a 66% higher tax rate than Constant Yield would have required if fairly applied after inflation. These extra taxes have been extracted from taxpayers by the political leaders since [at least] 2005 and every year after.
Since 2009, as property values declined, upward adjustments in the Constant Yield rate have been applied four times. But they were applied to the tax rates that were already too high by 66%. Applying Constant Yield in 2010, rates moved from 22.83 cents to 25.83 cents, in 2011 to 26.4 cents, in 2012 to 26.55 cents, in 2013 to 30.85 cents, and in 2014 to 31.11 cents. BLS inflation from 2010-2014 was 9.06%, or 2.82 cents, bringing the Constant Yield rate adjusted for inflation for ten years to 33.93 cents, not the present 47.8 cents. The real failure to accurately apply Constant Yield was during 2004-2009, but the damage was done. In the end, the OC politicians increased the effective tax rate by 41% over 10 years without voter approval by selectively applying the concept of Constant Yield to increase government revenue.
Certainly our elected representatives can raise rates above Constant Yield and be accountable to the voters. But when politicians use an automatic “Constant Yield” adjustment when they want to raise tax rates, they should also apply it in years when rates should be lowered. But they didn’t. Is this fair? Is this the American way? Of course not.
Even accounting for the 2013 OC Council’s 6.5-cent tax rate increase, the unwarranted increases due to the council’s failure to consistently apply Constant Yield totaled a staggering $112,450,673 over payment in ten years, or over $11 million per year! The selective application by our politicians of Constant Yield is one of the biggest reasons our property values have remained depressed compared to our neighboring towns six years after the recession ended.
The Council’s unfair application of Constant Yield over 10 years largely explains how the cost of Ocean City’s government has grown massively while the Town’s garbage output, a proxy for the level of services required, has remained about the same. The Council needs to fix the hidden taxation problem. It should begin to return some of the wrongfully assessed taxes of recent years, cut expenses, and allow property values and jobs to increase.
Resort Should Not Tolerate Law Breakers
In response to a letter two weeks about Cruisin, I too am a senior citizen that has always lived in midtown on both major roads in Ocean City. I’m surrounded by the events and noise. I enjoy all but the H20.
I’ve been here for every Cruisin, Bike Week, etc. I love OC and midtown and would not want to be any place else. Yes I’m here and lucky enough.
I have plenty to do every day and night with our great beaches and entertainers.
I’ve traveled and there is no place else like OC. I even do Seacrets late with the great bands and music. Talk about noise, I still go to major concerts like Styx, Bon Jovi, etc.
I ride the drunk bus too. So, you missed the point, it’s not about the noise, it’s the trash, disrespect and law breaking activities the groups participate in. It’s the majority now, not the few who do this. I’ve seen it for myself. Our community chains and barriers were torn down by some groups. Our fire extinguishers were opened and sprayed in our hallways and elevators by the vulgar H20 group. I had to call the police to get in my street.
So, I’m not a fuddy duddy who complains, I just want the town that I love and police force not to have to deal with this. I’m sure this costs us all. But remember, I’m here to stay, noise and all.
Disrespectful Displays At Northside Park
Everyone who lives near the Northside Park would agree the activities that take place there are great, but each year we see the level of disruption from weekend basketball tournaments grow.
Several times per hour we see several different groups of unsupervised teenage, and younger, teams (roughly ages 6 to 15) walking the streets yelling and singing profanity, littering, walking in the middle of the roads, refusing to move out of the way of motorists, throwing objects at bicyclists, bouncing basketballs and more, while being rude to the tax paying residents and renters who are here to enjoy the family atmosphere and quiet that Ocean City is known for.
As a resident, I highly suggest that no group of children should be without a parent, and that rules of conduct be announced and put in place by the head of the recreation center (with input from the neighboring building association owners). Additionally, security in the recreation center parking lot and neighboring streets must be in place if basketball is to continue in OC. As a 20-plus year resident of OC, we should not have our weekends disrupted with what basketball brings and if this program is to continue then it needs to conform to the same standards that other sporting events at Northside Park do, and not be a nuisance.
Coast Guard Events A Major Success
A breeches buoy rescue hasn’t happened in Ocean City since 1941. On June 20 we didn’t have a rescue but a breeches buoy re-enactment was presented by the Ocean City Life-
Saving Station Museum. The event was in honor of the 100th anniversary of the formation of the US Coast Guard. The Life-Saving Service, which later became the Coast Guard, has been a vital and welcome presence in Ocean City since 1878. The current station is an integral part of our town.
We were delighted with the turnout for the re-enactment. It proves that our residents and visitors are appreciative of what the Museum does and can provide to Ocean City.
There are so many people, businesses and organizations to thank that I fear missing one. But on behalf of the Board of the Ocean City Museum Society, let me give it a try.
The Delaware Indian River Life-Saving Station loaned us the equipment and actually performed the ‘rescue.’ They do this on a regular basis and Laura Scharle and her team are experts at it. They worked so hard to help us bring the event to fruition.
The Ocean City Coast Guard Station was an enormous help. Master Chief Timaree Sparks and Petty Officer Kyle Wood deserve special recognition. They were in the planning stages of the event and followed through to the end. The entire station crew couldn’t have been
more helpful or been more cheerful throughout. The 21st century rescue they performed was impressive and amazing to watch.
There never are enough good things to say about our Beach Patrol. They wanted to join in and give their version of a water rescue to add to the event. The crew on the beach, as always, was informative, and friendly.
A huge thank you to the various departments of the Town of Ocean City; the Council for giving us permission to hold the event; Special Events, for keeping things on track and helping with so many worrisome details; Public Works for whom nothing is too much trouble (their help with building the wreck-pole, securing the perimeter and many other details of the event were invaluable; and the Fire Marshal, Police Department and Paramedics provided their usual outstanding services.
Delmarva Power helped us enormously by erecting the wreck-pole (simulation of a mast). That was quite an operation to watch.
Bob Rothermel was instrumental in helping us over so many hurdles and providing an outstanding sound system for day of.
The local media were very helpful in spreading the word about the event.
The evening before the re-enactment a celebration dinner was held at the Clarion. We were honored to have Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Steven W. Cantrell as the guest speaker. It was heartwarming to see past members of the Coast Guard who had served in Ocean City mingling with the young men and women who serve here now. Dinner was a huge success in large part to the Clarion.
We are asking anyone who was in attendance at the re-enactment to share their thoughts with us. We would like to know the impact of the event. This will play a part in determining if we do this again. You can call the museum at 410-289-4991 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nancy L. Howard
(The writer is the president of the OC Museum Society Board, Inc.)