Ocean City Seeking More County Funds

SNOW HILL — Representatives for the five major municipalities in Worcester County got a chance to make specific requests for grant funding from the County Commissioners Tuesday for the coming fiscal year.

While most were content asking the county to match its funding from the previous year, Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan requested a significantly larger grant than last year.

Meehan said he was in agreement with the other representatives in recognizing the scarcity of resources in the county, and the difficulty in distributing those fairly.

However, in a letter sent to the commission, Meehan brings up a study done in 2007 which identified “several county programs or services not offered or provided to Ocean City residents.” There are a number of items cited, including programs from the Worcester County Departments of Tourism, Public Works, Recreation and Parks and Emergency Services, among others. It was argued at the time that more than $13 million in property taxes were being paid by Ocean City residents for these programs, despite the fact that they could not be utilized.

Because of the study, the commissioners agreed to raise the undesignated grant to Ocean City from $350,000 in the 2008 budget to $2,400,000 in the 2009. When the economy began to struggle, though, all grants to Ocean City were cut by roughly 10 percent and remained static at that rate for both the 2010 and 2011 budgets.

Meehan remarked that the economic downturn negatively impacted Ocean City and resulted in city programs being slashed. He suggested that if the commissioners were to increase grant money this year and in the future, it would go a long way toward helping his city fully recover.

Meehan requested that the commissioners restore this year’s grant level to the former high of $2,400,000 in 2009 plus an additional 5 percent. On top of that, he asked that the amount be increased by 10 percent every year after to “bring the total of the grants to an amount closer to the cost of the services that Ocean City taxpayers should not be required to pay.”

Meehan informed the commission in his letter that a similar request had been made to state legislators reinforcing the application being made to the county.

While no decisions were made Tuesday regarding future grants for Ocean City, Ocean Pines, Berlin, Snow Hill or Pocomoke, the commissioners promised to keep all requests made in mind when deliberating on the issue.