Former Councilman Critical Of City Proposals

OCEAN CITY – Former Council President Joe Mitrecic returned during this week’s Mayor and City Council meeting to offer his opinions on decreasing employee pay and benefits.

Mitrecic approached the council during the discussion over the ordinance to base newly hired town employees pay scales on the 2005 Hendrick’s Study Chart, which would result in an 8.8-percent decrease across all pay levels for new employees.

Mitrecic questioned the council on demoralizing current employees with the talk of the next step. He asked why officials were gambling with the safety and cleanliness of the town and its future as well as why it would take the chance to lose the best employees available for the town of Ocean City.

“I have heard Council member Joe Hall say he thinks, or he feels, or he believes, that things are desperate or unsustainable,” Mitrecic said. “As a matter of fact, it is the only thing I seem to hear up there, but there hasn’t been any hard facts about what these changes will save or possible costs to the taxpayers in the future.”

Mitrecic, who lost his seat in last October’s election, discussed what facts are known.

“Room tax was up by almost 5 percent and food and beverage tax was up almost 2 percent,” he said.

Mitrecic referred to a remark that Joe Hall had made a couple weeks ago that businesses are closing all around town due to economic hardships.

“I beg to differ,” he said.

Mitrecic went on to list businesses that are booming around town, such as Old Pro Golf on 136th Street, which recently underwent a $1 million renovation; Primo Hoagies, which opened a new business; and the Crab Bag, which also conducted a $1 million renovation.

“Council member Joe Hall constantly refers to people he talks too to say it’s not feasible to stay in business here,” he said. “I would like to have these people contact me because the people I have talked to say they are coming off one of the best years ever.”

Mitrecic approached the council a second time during the discussion of amending the amount of personal, sick, or bereavement days newly hired town employees can acquire, which will max out at 20 days and unused accrued days will not be allowed to be used toward retirement enhancements.

“This change in this ordinance does not take into fact that God forbid one of your employees would suffer a catastrophic illness,” he said.

Mitrecic said that he agrees that the council should be looking to cut pay scales, pension plans or the contribution of health care, but he wants facts used in the discussion.

“I would just like to see the decision based on facts and more then someone’s feelings,” he said.