OC Seeks Grants With Tax Differential Undecided

The future of a tax differential remains uncertain for Ocean City,
but what is certain is that the issue will not be resolved before the FY 2009
budget is passed. As a result, a letter was sent to the County Commissioners
this week, outlining grant requests to offset town expenditures.

Council President Joe
Mitrecic presented the letter to the City Council this week, receiving
unanimous support to forward the letter to the County Commissioners
for review.

Ocean City and Worcester County
staff met on March 11 to discuss the report on the tax differential for Ocean City
taxpayers, which was submitted to the county last December.

“While we differed on
the percentages of county services that are countywide and non-city, all
present agreed that the methodology used in the report was correctly applied.
We acknowledge that additional meetings will be needed to reach agreement,”
reads the letter to the commissioners.

In an effort to offset
town expenditures, which result from services that the town provides in lieu of
county services, the letter proposes the several grants.

The first grant request
outlines that, “the same amounts funded in the FY-08 budget for streets, the
Convention Bureau, tourism marketing, recreation, downtown redevelopment,
police, fire, and undesignated totaling $1,243,768.”

The letter requests that
the same formula used in FY 2008 for funding emergency medical services be used
for the FY 09 grant. According to the town, that amount totaled $1,016,220 in
FY 08.

“We appreciate your
recognition that adequate funding of emergency medical services is critical,”
reads the letter.

In addition to prior
year grants, the town is also requesting funding to offset town costs of
services, indicated in the tax differential report, for police, review and
permitting, fire marshal, public works, environmental, recreation and tourism
marketing, in the amount of $3, 250,000.

The town is also
requesting annual county participation for debt-service for two, 20-year bonds
used to fund the property acquisition for a boat ramp and parking facilities,
each at a price of $500,000 per year.

“While the total of the
above funding requests are substantially less than the amounts identified in
the tax differential report, it moves in the direction needed to adequately
address this issue for Ocean
City taxpayers. The
additional amounts will be applied to the Town’s FY-09 budget to provide relief
for Ocean City
taxpayers for services not provided by Worcester County
in the Town,” the letter reads.

The Mayor and City
Council will meet with the County
Commissioners within the
next month to discuss the grants as well as tax differential.