Ocean City News In Brief

OCEAN CITY — In the brief this week, the town opted to save some money by allowing the town’s tax bill to be handled by the county, the Fire Marshal’s Office was approved for some costly new equipment via grant money and several beach stand franchise bids came in a little below last year’s numbers.

Town Remits Billing To County

The Ocean City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to allow Worcester County to collect property taxes and handle the paperwork involved in the annual billing process.

Simply put, residents and property owners used to getting both a town and a county bill will now only get one tax bill.

Finance Administrator Martha Lucey said the proposal would annually save the town roughly $32,000, mostly in postage costs, and that the town would essentially be following the lead of the three other incorporated cities in the county, Pocomoke, Snow Hill, and Berlin, who all have delegated their tax billing task to the county.

“Property owners will now only get one bill with detailed listings for their county, town and state taxes,” said Lucey. “The due dates will be the same, and this will simplify billing for our approximated 30,000 property owners.”

This proposal will be contingent upon a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the county and the town of Ocean City, and as a side-note to the proposal, Lucey said that the town needs to set its tax rate by June 1, so that the county can calculate the billing.

In contrast, the City Council passed the town’s current $112 million budget on June 2, 2009, setting the current tax rate of 39.5 cents per $100 assessed property valuation.

In addition, Lucey said that the county tax officer has agreed to remit $2 million per week to the town of Ocean City from July to September so the town can address its apparent cash flow needs.

“What he does with other municipalities is what he collects in July, he remits to them by late August, but we can’t wait that long, as that is the time when our payroll and expense costs are at their highest, so he’s agreed to do it per week for that time period,” said Lucey.

Last year, town took in $37 million through Oct. 31, so this offer from the county tax officer would give the resort roughly $32 million by the end of September, which Lucey said would suffice.

“It may appear to be much larger when they open up that Worcester County bill, not realizing that the Ocean City numbers are included, so I think we need to let people know that this is coming all on one bill,” said Lucey,” but there is no change in amount, or the due date, and I think we need to get that message out to people.”

Fire Marshal’s Office To Get

New Gear With Grant Funds

Using more than $50,000 in Homeland Security Grant money, the Ocean City Fire Marshal’s Office is about to get an overdue upgrade to some of its equipment.

Fire Marshal Sam Villani got unanimous concurrence from the Mayor and City Council on Tuesday to use recently acquired grant money to purchase $51,458 worth of equipment including a state of the art bomb suit, which will replace the town’s decade old one that it uses currently.

The new bomb suit, manufactured by Allen Vanguard Technologies Inc and costs nearly $21,000, is said to be a huge “step up” from the old suit and will provide superior engineering to ensure improvements to ballistic protection, flexibility, visibility, environmental control and integrated communication.

In addition, Villani’s office will also move forward with the purchase of a $26,000 Digital X-Ray Machine, and a $4,500 remote firing device, which allows bomb squad technicians the ability to initiate disruption tools and demolition charges.

Town Loses A Little On

Beach Stand Auctions

Five uptown parcels recently auctioned for the right to set up beach stands were awarded Tuesday, despite the town collecting $2,170 less for the spots than it had previously.

Two parcels (122nd to 124th and 131st to 133rd streets) actually went for a bit more money than they sold for last year, according to town records, but the loss incurred by the town for parcels in front of a few of the so-called high-rises in the northern portions of the resort were the main components of the financial loss.

The parcel that sits in front of the Flying Cloud, the Pyramid and the Plaza condominiums sold for $1,600 less than last year at the final bid price of $17,200, and the parcel in front of the High Point North, High Point South and the Seawatch went for $1,200 less than what was collected last year.

The recent auction also decreased the number of beach parcels owned by Telescope Pictures and 85 and Sunny proprietor Patrick McLaughlin, who last year held the maximum number of parcels (50 percent) allowed by the town’s ordinance. According to City Clerk Carol Jacobs, McLaughlin lost two stands in the recent bidding process.

“I’m actually pleased with the numbers that came in for this, despite the economy and everything else going on,” said Councilman Jim Hall.