Voices From The Readers

Council Hurting OC

Editor:

When is the Ocean City Council going to stop taking action
that discourages people from wanting to visit Ocean City?

Recent council action resulted in increase fees for over
110 types of business licenses needed to operate in Ocean City. Doesn’t the
council members understand that every time they raise a fee on a business the
business just passes the cost of the increase fees along to its customers? This
is the reason why a relative visiting with me pointed out that advertisements
in the Baltimore area are now asking a question why visit Ocean City, Md. when
it is cheaper to take your family to the Caribbean.

west o bottle shop

It is not like the Ocean City government needs additional
money. Councilman Jim Hall recently stated that the Ocean City has $10 million
in the bank to pay for disaster recovery. In any major storm, past history
indicates that federal and state funds would immediately become available.
Let’s see how excessive that $10 million is and what will it get the city. If
the hourly cost to rent a piece of equipment such as a dump truck is $100, a
very liberal amount, the $10 million would allow Ocean City to rent 138 trucks
around the clock for a month (100 times 24 hours times 30 days equals $72,000
divided into $10 million equals 138). The $10 million amount is extremely
excessive. It is clear to me that the council is using the need for disaster
recovery to over-tax and over-charge its residents and visitors. Ocean City
voters should remember what action the council takes to reduce this excessive
taxation and overcharging the next time they enter the voting booth.

Mary Ann Quinn

Ocean City

Disappointed By Md. Hydraulic Ban

Editor:

(The following letter was addressed to Delegate Jim
Mathias.)

Congratulations on your first session of the General
Assembly. However, I have to say that I was terribly disappointed in the effort
on your part in securing the clam ban for Worcester County. From the papers, I
see you now are saying that it is time for science to come forth. I feel that
this is a terribly disingenuous statement to make after the ban was passed. The
time for science should have been before all the effort to put the ban in
effect. You and I both know that once in effect the ban will never be lifted.
In effect, you now have made the entire coastal bay an area for recreational
clamming. I feel that the clams in the bay are a natural resource and are
therefore, the property of all the people of the State of Maryland. The dredge
boats that you complained about were harvesting clams to feed people who are
not fortunate to own a boat or be able to come to Ocean City and catch clams
recreationally.

More importantly, I feel the various recreational groups
that you are pandering to are not so much concerned with clams as they are with
summer flounder. You have caved to their demands on this issue. Next you will
be approached to support the ban on the draggers that work in the ocean who
they feel are robbing them of their fair share of this highly desirable fish.

You next mentioned aquaculture: I defy you to try and
lease a portion of bay bottom anywhere in Isle of Wight, Assawoman or
Sinepuxent Bays – the areas with the best water for aquaculture. Shorefront
landowners would be up in arms at such a proposal. Likewise, the National Park
Service would not allow any leases on the seaside of Sinepuxent Bay. The
leaseholder that you mentioned spent years obtaining his minimal lease.

All that said, I have been a member of the Fisheries
Advisory Committee since its inception and was originally recommended by
Delegate Bennett Bozman. Since you are now in the House of Delegates, I feel it
is only fair that you should have the same privilege as Bozman to nominate
whomever you wish to serve as your representative on the committee. Therefore,
I have tendered my resignation to Martin Gary effective immediately.

Best of luck in your future endeavors.

Ricks E. Savage

Berlin
 

Support New Center

Editor:

Well, it’s time to stand up and be counted. On one side we
have the opponents of a new community center, loosely led by Marty Clarke, and
on the other side we should have all those who are involved in the Ocean Pines
community and its many activities. Let’s take a slightly biased look at each
side’s position.

Marty Clarke is a long-time opponent of a community center.
He has now sued the OPA Board for monetary damages, which, if successful, will
be paid by funds originating from you and me and every other Ocean Pines
property owner. But wait, Mr. Clarke has generously indicated he will donate
any winnings to OPA after he subtracts his legal fees. Did I get this right? We
get to pay his legal fees.

There are others opposed to a new community center who
say, "Not this community center at this time." To them I ask,
"What community center, when?" since they apparently have never seen
one they liked.

On the in-favor side we have a Board of Directors who
agree about mighty little but are unanimously in favor of this new community
center. Did they handle its planning well? About as well as a bunch of well
meaning unpaid volunteer amateurs could be expected to. In other words, they
made mistakes. But this vote isn’t about the Board. We get to do that later. We
are voting on a new community center now and there are only two real questions.
"Do we need it?" and "Are we getting a decent deal?" Anyone
who has tried to schedule a meeting or event or has looked at the condition of
the community hall knows the answer to the first question. And after the
economizing caused by sticker shock, I think it’s safe to answer the second affirmatively
also. Putting off construction can only make it more expensive.

Let me explain why I earlier wrote that all people
involved in Ocean Pines activities should vote in favor of the community
center. Golfers are a minority in Ocean Pines but I help pay for their golf
course. I hope they vote for the community center I need for my activities,
because I would assuredly vote to preserve their sport. Swimmers are a minority
and may need my help in the future. I hope they vote with me now. Likewise
parents with children in need of activities and play areas; but I think they
already know we need a new community center. We are a community of numerous
activities, each engaged in by a minority. If we don’t support each other to
form a majority we will be out voted every time by those naysayers who are not
involved in anything.

Do not fool yourself. Even if the community center loses,
the OPA real property will still be sold and the funds used to cover
obligations already incurred for the center. Any funds remaining will be sunk
in the antiquated community hall, making for an expensive sow’s ear.

So, did you come to Ocean Pines to live, or to die? You
know how I’m voting.

Richard R. Marchesiello

Ocean Pines

We Are Being Overtaxed

Editor:

I wrote a letter to the Worcester County Commissioners a
few weeks ago in which I conveyed my thoughts on a proposed Worcester County
amusement park study, and also, the over-taxation that many small businesses
are facing. Lots of people got the idea from the article that I was frustrated
and maybe a little upset. Lots of people were right. I’m sure that other people
thought it was a lot of whining and the predicted closing of Trimper Rides in
Ocean City was just so much rhetoric. It was neither.

The new Worcester County property tax assessments just
came out. That sealed the deal for us; our time is over. I thought I would
share my thinking on the subject, however, with the hope that it might help
some other business keep its head above water in the future. I realize that in
this country, even when you own property, you pay rent (property tax) to the
government for owning it. Nothing wrong with that principle; somebody has to
pay the bills for government services. Every three years in Worcester County,
the amount of land rent, or tax, is adjusted by the government. That adjustment
has been in the positive direction since the beginning of time. Especially
these days when government feels the need to be all things to all people, taxes
must continue to rise.

This year, the Trimper Rides property tax increase was
over $500,000. I’m not talking the amount of property tax; I’m talking about
the increase in the property tax. Our profit from operation was nowhere near
that number. So, if my math holds up, we aren’t doing so well.

Now, how do you figure such a thing? We’re not talking
about personal property tax, payroll tax, state income tax, federal income tax,
capital gains tax, inheritance tax, fuel tax, sales tax, amusement tax,
unemployment tax, licensing fees, inspection fees, or water and sewer fees.
We’re only talking here about the cost of owning the property that you bought.
Forget about your own expenses like payroll, insurance, healthcare or
inventory. Forget about equipment of any kind or maintenance. Just how much can
anybody bear?

I have tried to consider the logic of it all. Example: You
know all the TV shows and movies where a car breaks down out in the middle of
nowhere, but just in sight of a broken down filling station? The car can be
fixed, but when the cost of repair is requested, the response is, “how much
have you got?” No, I mean, how much is the bill? Usually, an ogre-like face
blurts out, “All of it, boy.” Is that where we are headed? Is government
looking over its shoulder at all with regard to the results of its actions?

We have had an amusement park for a long time. It is the
same park, year after year, with the occasional addition of a new ride. It is
so much the same park that it’s starting to look tired. In spite of this
sameness, doing the same thing year after year, the government rent on the
property keeps increasing. Why? Because other people are doing things to their
property — $500,000.00 increase, good God. We know that there is a process for
appealing this kind of thing, but the process takes over two years. We try an
appeal every three years anyhow. Then what, the next three-year assessment?
What is the point, when this type of logic runs/ruins our system?

People say, “You all ought to put condominiums down there.
Everybody is doing it.” No, thanks, is our reply. “You’d make a lot of money,”
they say. No, we say, we’ll stay the same. We want to run an amusement park. “I
know you’d make a lot of money,” they say. No thanks, we respond, we want to
preserve something different.

“Well, boy,” the government says, “we’re gonna tax you as
if you had put them condominiums in. Not our fault if you won’t build them.
What do you think about that?” Frankly, I think that reasoning sucks. I am the
same year after year, and you decide the tax on my property is going to be higher,
not because of what I have done with it, but because of what you think I should
do with it. Wow. It’s going to take that one a while to sink in. Here’s an
interesting thought: how about if you just charge me with being what I am? If I
were a pig farm, a hardware store, a bike shop or a florist, why would I still
have to be taxed as a condominium?

Every dollar of our overpriced ride tickets already goes
to all the aforementioned taxes. With escalating insurance, labor and
utilities, no wonder the place is starting to look a little worse for the wear.
Last year, a new white picket fence was installed around the old place to
upgrade the 30-year-old chain link – $60,000 worth of white pickets. Want to
guess the result? “We noticed you put up a purdy new fence, boy. Property
improvement, huh? That’s gonna cost ya. We can tax that.” After the amusement
park is gone, rides will be auctioned off. In most cases, the carousels are
sold in pieces. They are worth more that way. Each hand-carved animal will be
sold separately. The chicken may wind up in a museum, the goat in an office
building, and maybe, the pig, on a stick in the backyard for little Susie and
Billy to sit on. When summer comes, and the kids want some fun, you can take
them on a stroll of the Boardwalk to look at all the pretty condominiums. Maybe
an ordinance will get passed to require different colored porch bulbs on
alternating floors. The government can do that you know. If the kids start
getting bored or restless, buy them a $30 bucket of fries, or an $18 popcorn,
and if that doesn’t do the trick, remind them that they have a pig on a stick
in the backyard at home.

A couple of hundred years ago, the waters in Boston Harbor
got a little murky. It wasn’t because of pollution or crop runoff, snakefish or
mosquito breeding grounds, it was tea. People got tired of being pushed to the
brink of extinction by over-taxation and simply said, “enough”. What’s wrong
with us as thinking individuals? I’m not subversive; I’m just pissed off. Is
anybody listening? I think it could be “tea time”.

Doug Trimper

Ocean
City