OC Tax Rate Comes In At Goal; Public Hearing Set For May 20

OCEAN CITY – An update on the proposed city budget for the next fiscal year, starting July 1, was presented this week and the city is looking to set the property tax rate at one penny above constant yield.

“We are at one penny above the constant yield and the fund balance is at 15 percent, which I believe was one of the goals of the council in the last discussion,” City Manager David Recor said.

The city manager’s initially proposed tax rate was .4864. However, a goal was made to make cuts and find additional revenue sources to have the rate set to at least a penny above constant yield, or .472.

Following a budget wrap-up session a couple weeks ago, Budget Manager Jennie Knapp left the meeting having to find $276,000 in cuts to get there.

“We went back and looked through all the revenue, tweaked a few of the revenue items, and we still had $256,000 to find,” she said. “I put out an email to all the departments and asked if there was anything they wanted to volunteer, and then I went back through everybody’s budgets and pointed out some things that I thought they could volunteer and between a combinations of all that … we came up with the other $256,000.”

During a week of budget sessions and reviewing each department’s requests, the council voted to make a net of $700,000 reductions but still had over $500,000 to go to have the tax rate at .472.

During budget wrap-up, the council voted to make special appropriations to organizations, such as Delmarva Cat Connection and the Cricket Center among a few others, as well as initiate revenue changes like new areas of paid parking and make expense reductions, such as cutting the hours at the skate park and eliminating the third shift of the buses in the off season.

Knapp presented the council with an extensive list of changes made since wrap up, cutting corners wherever possible. A few items were added back to the budget, such as uniform expenses and costs for additional Cale machines for paid parking that all raised the gap to $280,000.

The fiscal year 2014 Financial Operating Plan, or budget, as proposed will be presented at a public hearing on Monday, May 20 and voted on Monday, June 3.

The public hearing is expected to be heavily attended with skate park proposal critics expected to protest the planned closure in the winter and 146th Street residents expected to criticize the addition of parking meters.