Ocean City News In Brief

brief this week, the Economic Development Committee (EDC) got a visit from
former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich, concerns were raised over the potential
closing of a postal processing plant in Easton, the town’s “Rodney Saves”
online campaign has reported huge increases in traffic and the Mayor and City
Council decided on its wish list of issues they’d like to see discussed in
Annapolis by the Maryland Municipal League.

Ehrlich Polishes Talking Points To EDC Attendees

Ehrlich was charismatic
and passionate throughout his 25-minute speech to a friendly and seemingly
like-minded crowd at Monday’s EDC meeting held at the Clarion, as he perhaps
revealed some of his main talking points for his upcoming gubernatorial
campaign to get back into the governor’s mansion in Annapolis.

Ehrlich said that
Maryland has been unfriendly and even “hostile” to businesses and said that if
elected back into office, he would hold quarterly round-table discussions with
small business owners in hopes of “finding out what you want me to do to help
you my first day back”, in addition to his pledge to cut the state sales tax
from 6 percent back to 5 percent, as well as his plans to make an attempt to
eliminate the state’s corporate income tax.

“I wouldn’t contest that
we wouldn’t have had a recession if I would have been governor because we most
certainly would have,” said Ehrlich, “but my feeling though is that we wouldn’t
have reached the depths of the problems that we have in the state. There is a
sense of angst, frustration and resentment and high emotions with small
business people right now, and it’s a result of over taxation and inconsistent

Longtime friend, EDC
Chairman and Carousel Hotel and Resort Managing Partner Michael James, who is
also running on the Republican ticket this fall for state senator, invited
Ehrlich to speak in front of a crowded room of guests on Monday morning, and
James was quick to praise the record of Ehrlich concerning what he had done for
Ocean City businesses and the tourism industry while in office.

“It is no secret that
when [Ehrlich] was in office, the money that we got from the state for tourism
went up 40 percent,” said James.

Other notable moments
included Ehrlich calling out local businesses to be “aggressive” and to not be
subtle with their demands in the upcoming election. He also called President
Obama’s stimulus bill a “trillion dollar piece of junk.”

Concern Arises Over Potential Plant Closing

Written comments are
still being accepted concerning the possibility that the postal processing
plant in Easton might be shut down, eliminating 54 jobs, and would mean that
all mail from the Eastern Shore would be routed through the Baltimore postal
processing facility.

“If you are going to
mail a letter down the street, it’s basically going to mean that it’s going to
go all the way to Baltimore, and then to its destination,” said EDC Chair
Michael James. “There are some serious concerns about this.”

The US Postal Service claims
that closing the Easton plant would save over $3.4 million annually and not
alter the way or the speed in which people get their mail.

The Postal Service does
not operate on federal tax dollars, but rather on customer revenue for
operations.  As a result of declining
volume in first class mail over the past few years, the Postal Service
reportedly stands to lose almost $7 billion this year.

‘Rodney Saves’ A Big Hit

Tourism Director Debbie
Turk reported at Monday’s EDC meeting that this year’s advertising campaign,
which has continued to play up value via the “Rodney Saves” deals splashed all
over the ads, has increased unique users on the town’s website by more than 60
percent to date.

“We’ve increased our
billboard presence this year, and our new television commercials will be shot
in early July,” said Turk. “We have been really getting the majority of our new
unique users on the site from the New York and New Jersey markets.”

Council Selects Issues To Stress In Annapolis

The Mayor and Council
decided on the three issues that they would like to see brought to the
attention of Annapolis lawmakers via the Maryland Municipal League and tax
differential leads the way yet again.

The council hopes that
tax differential will get a fair play this year in Annapolis as the town
continues to contest that it is owed millions from the county for duplication
of services and the fact that Ocean City residents are hit with both town and
county tax bills.

New to the list this
year is the council’s hope for a restructuring of the system concerning
unemployment insurance benefits, particularly for seasonal workers.

“I think the council
wants to make sure that unemployment is there for those who need it, but it
isn’t provided for people who knowingly go into their job, knowing that it is
only a few months a year, and just figure in unemployment as part of their
pay,” City Clerk Kathy Mathias said.

The council also hopes
that the state will provide an easement on a law that requires an architect’s

stamp or seal of approval for any project over $5,000.  The council would like to see that number

changed to any project over $25,000.