Resort Eyes $27.5M Bond To Finance Various Projects

OCEAN CITY – The ordinance set to authorize the Mayor and Council to issue and sell, upon its full fail and credit, $27.5 million in general obligation bonds was passed unanimously on first reading at the Mayor and Council meeting Monday night.

At last week’s work session, the Mayor and Council were presented with a project list and the refinancing of recognized bonds for approval.  After reviewing the proposal, the council made a few changes to the project list and set a ceiling price of $22.5 million. The council also voted unanimously at that time to approve the project list and the refinancing of recognized bonds and to review the proposal in ordinance form.

This week the proposal came before the Mayor and Council in ordinance form, but with a different ceiling figure than what was agreed upon at last week’s work session.

Finance Administrator Martha Bennett explained that the ceiling had been raised from $22.5 million to $27.5 million to account for the possibility of interest rates increases. Bennett explained to the Mayor and Council that although rates have recently been lowered, and although it’s predicted that those rates will stay low through the end of the calendar year, they still must factor in the potential for increased rates. As a result, the new ceiling was set at $27.5 million.

“At this point we don’t anticipate it being that much,” Bennett told the Mayor and Council.

It was also pointed out that the price could change with amendments prior to the second reading of the ordinance or with the removal of projects from the project list. A change was already seen last week, with the removal of the Sunset Park Pier from the project list.

The items on this year’s project list in regards to the general fund are the Public Safety Building expansion, the Downtown Recreation Complex, the Northside Park restroom and press box, the support shop facility expansion/generator, St. Louis Ave. reconstruction design and street improvements and reconstruction.

The projects related to wastewater on the list are, secondary influent and pumping station, the Jamestown Road pumping station, and the aeration basin. Land acquisition for a well site is also on the list.

The decision was made last week to proceed with the Downtown Recreation Complex as a whole instead of proceeding with just phase one of the project. The project is still hinging on the lease between the town and the county. Ocean City is currently negotiating a 99-year lease with Worcester County for use of the property. If the lease does not come through, the town will still have the option of removing that part of the project from the project list.

The council voted unanimously to approve the ordinance on first reading.