Perhaps it comes with 27 years of experience, including a 14-year stint as council president and a 10-month term as city manager, but there’s no question Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan’s knowledge of town government is impressive.
Unlike what often happens during candidate interviews, Meehan spoke in specifics this week when he drove home his main points. He intentionally avoided rhetoric when addressing his major differences with the council majority.
Although the conversation touched on a number of topics, a common theme was Meehan’s belief that the last two years under the council majority has not been the time of fiscal savings and cuts, as has been put forward of late. He said the major cuts took place prior to the 2010 election and he gave specific examples.
“We eliminated our construction department in public works and found at that time because the cost to outsource was down it was better to bring in private contractors. We changed the way we did our trash collection and saved $1.6 million. We initiated a hiring freeze before anybody else did. We froze salaries. We offered retirement incentives, which were accepted by many senior employees, reducing our operating budget in not only that year but residual years,” Meehan said. “We reduced starting part-time salaries for some of our employees, eliminated night differential. We changed our take-home vehicle policies. We created the taxi medallion system. We made changes to health insurance, saving us $200,000 before this new council. We did these things, and a long list of other things, prior to the 2010 election. We were out front of the decline in the economy and way ahead of many other areas.”
As if Berlin has not had its share of political theater of late, the town now finds itself in some new hot water after officials in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce have decided to relocate the venerable farmers market.
Although not all were interviewed this week, some of the more vocal market vendors oppose the move for a number of reasons, not the least of which is concerns their sales will fall off their current pace with the change in venue. That’s a major part of their beef, as is the fear pedestrian traffic will be reduced, but also is the fact they were not brought into the discussion until it was already made.
Last Friday, a letter from the chamber was disseminated at the market informing vendors Nov. 16 would be the final day in the old IGA parking lot at the corner of Main and West streets and that a new site will be offered at Stephen Decatur Park on Fridays and Henry Park on Wednesdays. The letter also announced a meeting will be held this morning at 8 a.m. to answer questions. Vendors are also planning to attend Monday’s Berlin Mayor and Council meeting to discuss the matter further.
The chances of any minds being changed are slim, but they will get a chance to at least express their views. My guess is this is going to be a change that will have to take place and then be weighed again down the line before the decision is reconsidered.
It’s a topic nobody wants to talk about, but during the summer months fighting on the Boardwalk has become a major concern. Therefore, I was glad to see the State’s Attorney’s Office address it in court last week during a case involving a Delaware man, who along with his brother, attacked a man in a downtown restroom to the point the man lost consciousness. “We don’t want to fill up our jail with young people, but the youth of this age group from Delaware likes to come down here and pick fights on the Boardwalk,” Deputy State’s Attorney Steve Rakow told the judge. “It’s been a common problem and we’d like to send a message that you can’t come down here and start fights and just walk away.”