City Makes Budget Changes

OCEAN CITY – The Mayor and City Council was presented with recent budget changes this week, observing various amendments to cover unexpected cost increases.

Budget Manager Jennie Knapp presented budget amendment number two to the Mayor and Council Tuesday afternoon, explaining the various changes and transfers within the town’s budget.

Knapp noted that the major change came with the decrease in Planning and Zoning fees, with a reduction of $585,318 in revenue.

 “We did budget for a decreases in the fees, but we did not understand the magnitude of what that might be,” said Knapp.

Areas such as increased license revenue and room tax revenue were used to balance the decrease in Planning and Zoning revenue.

“The good news is, to fund all the changes, we were able to cover from other sources,” said Knapp, adding that the appropriated fund balance for the General Fund is $353.

Expense adjustments within the budget included the Police Department, Beach Patrol, Communications, the Fire Company, Solid Waste, Public Works and Recreation and Parks. Knapp noted that a savings of $341,000 was incurred through the Department of Solid Waste with the realization of a 19.5 percent discount this year.  Other savings were incurred through Police Department overtime reductions and overestimates in Beach Patrol part-time salaries.

Knapp noted that most departments have been well within their budgets this year.

“Vehicle costs hit the transportation department very hard,” said Knapp, adding that other funds were found and used to cover the unexpected fuel costs.

Council member Jay Hancock questioned savings incurred through unfilled employee positions in various departments.

“I try to make arrangements at that time not to fund them at 100 percent,” said Knapp, explaining that she keeps in mind departments with vacancies that could remain vacant for a significant amount of time when she funds each department.

Hancock also questioned the final figure for costs related to the EOCC lawsuit against the town. Knapp reported a figure of $448,000 spent, adding, “That is the lions share of the expense.”

Council member Jim Hall questioned funds appropriated for the auto vehicle locators, approved earlier this year at a cost of $68,466.

“I think it went very well,” said Public Works Director Hal Adkins, reporting that the system is working efficiently.

“We’ve been waiting so long for this, I’d like to see how it works,” said Hall.