Voices From The Readers

Spending Crippling Town

Last year, FY13, the town property taxes for my residence in Ocean City increased by 19.5%, over the previous year. Based on the proposed town budget for FY14, they are scheduled to increase another 6%. The compound effect is that over the last two budgets, my town property taxes will have increased by 26.77%.

This is occurring at the same time that Social Security benefits have only increased by 3.6% in 2012 and 1.7% in 2013. Spending is out of control in the Town of Ocean City.

Vincent dePaul Gisriel, Jr.
Ocean City

Parking Change Not
Justified On 146th St.

I am a part time resident of Ocean City and live in the Ocean Place Condominium at 146th Street. I want to thank the Maryland Coast Dispatch for reporting on the 146th paid parking controversy.  If it were not for reporting by local papers, residents would not realize how the Town of Ocean City is treating us.

However, I disagree with one of the editor’s comments in “How We See It”. The editor states, “Although the reasoning behind the selected blocks is justifiable in our view, the city is missing out on …” I do not believe the reasoning is valid, rational, or justifiable.

It has become obvious that the decision on 146th was a quick and easy selection that did not adequately consider the effects upon the residents of Ocean Place which borders 146th. We heard town officials state in the council meeting video that we were “low hanging fruit” and an “area of least resistance”. I would not consider that necessarily a justifiable reason for selecting our street. Readers should realize that only we were selected. There are dozens of condos like us that use street parking when there is insufficient room in their private lot. They will be able to continue to park for free. But we will not. We will have to pay up to $25 per day to park on the street. I wonder why that is justifiable. The council states that 131st and 59th streets were also selected, but the bayside part of 131st selected has only restaurants and 59th street has no condominium taxpaying residents using it like we do. That one is targeting Ocean Pines residents from across the bay.

The only criteria for selection we have been able to squeeze out of the council is no residential units on the north side of 146th; plenty of available free parking on 145th; adequate room in our private parking lot; and only Delaware day trippers park on 146th now. We have proved that none of these are valid criteria or even true.

Our association believes there is a way to maximize needed revenue from paid parking and at the same time treat residents who already pay taxes to Ocean City fairly. A comprehensive planning process is needed that is not arbitrary and irrational. It does not have to be expensive as some council members have stated.  It only takes the will of the Town of Ocean City to do this. Data are available and we and other stakeholder residents as well as Ocean City staff should be involved. In the meantime, the Town should delay paid parking on 146th until a plan is developed. We are willing to live with a rational plan for paid parking.

Ron Deacon
(The writer is the president of the Ocean Place Condominium Board of Directors.)

Support For Parking Plan
(The following was addressed to the Ocean City Mayor and Council.)

My wife and I are full-time residents and voting citizens of Ocean City and we are writing in support of your plans to extend paid parking in our fair city.

We support your efforts for a number of reasons: the city needs the revenue and I believe some of our fellow citizens and visitors are abusing your efforts to share costs equally and fairly in our resort city.

A number of objections have been voiced to your plan and I would like to address the two that I find most egregious.

Owners of Ocean Place condominiums are objecting because their overflow parking will now be forced to pay to park on 146th Street. Being very familiar with Ocean Place, I can guarantee you that their parking lot is never filled to capacity, not even on holidays. For some reason, these people think it is our collective responsibility to provide them with free parking for their varied and sundry visitors without them using their own facility to the max. What they need is a “hot spot” variable parking plan to utilize their own facility before they ask the rest of us to solve their problems of their own making. I am aware that owners of Ocean Place have some sort of problems with their deed documents, but at the end of the day their problems are their problems and I am sure they can fix them.

Visitors may be hard pressed to afford the cost of a day’s parking and be discouraged from visiting our city. So what? If they can’t afford the cost, why would we want them to visit. As a business proposition, these should not be our target visitor audience and at the end of the day I get sort of disturbed that we spend $4,000,000 annually (the beach, lifeguards and maintenance budget), so these people can enjoy our beaches with a modicum of safety and cleanliness and in more than a few instances, they contribute nothing to the cost of providing the amenities.

I would like to close with the story of a resident of Ocean City who lives west of Coastal Highway. In most days of the season, he drives his beach equipment-loaded car to 143rd Street early in the morning. He then secures a prime parking space very close to the beach. He then removes his bicycle from the car and returns home until his family is delivered to the beach via another car. The cars then sit in their spaces all day.

I have to laugh just to keep from crying.

We live on Wight St right on the ocean. We are at 143rd street and we urge you to install meters on Wight Street also. Yes, it will impact our visitors, but I think it’s a small price to pay to help fund our resort city and its amenities. As a matter of fact, I support paid parking throughout our entire fair city oceanside and in some instances, bayside.

Cities have to evolve and grow, not necessarily in size, but in those areas that support basic functions. Change is never easy, completely fair and mostly disturbing. Failure to change however is always fatal.

William S. Hennings
Ocean City

County Budget Disturbs

The many shocking budgetary trade-offs about to be made by Worcester County officials, at the public’s expense, are now only days away. Some of them include:

1. Giving Ocean City $550,000 more (in tax differentials) than they asked for, while…
2. Further cutting various volunteer fire companies $340,000.
3. Paying Berlin  for their ludicrously-invented stormwater fees.
4. Unnecessarily doubling their AGH allocation to $100,000.
5. Temporarily stabilizing Snow Hill’s historic Opera House for $100,000.
 6. $100,000 study of Showell Elementary School.

7, $50,000 again for the dismally failing Pocomoke Discovery Center, which would probably blossom if sold.

8. School Safety: The numerous proposals from the Sheriff’s Department and school board (at the commissioners’ requests) have, obviously, all increasingly veered away from the original objective of preventing and minimizing terrorist murders in our schools. They are unnecessarily: expensive, inefficient, counter-productive, and could, in fact, be literally deadly for these deputies, as well as school staff, students and visitors! To any killer, these officers, whether full- or part-time, would literally be “sitting ducks”.

Alternatively, Delegate Mike McDermott’s originally-proposed solutions, — which are being politically rejected — are still indisputably the safest, most effective and financially-sound strategies. These included training and equipping selected school staff with fire-arms and tazers, and allowing off-duty officers to carry their weapons onto school property. These have also passed legislative litmus test criteria, both financially and infrastructurally. If, — God forbid, –we find out the hard way, that political favoritism cost us human lives, how in the world will any and all of us deal with that cost?

9. Salary Increases: At the May 7 public budget hearing, among my numerous concerns, I suggested consulting MACO, NACO or some other entity for a healthy and balanced governmental budgeting guideline. Here’s just one subsequent, but excellent, example of why:

According to County Administrator Gerry Mason’s example, based on a $30,000 salary, after last year’s 2% ($600) increase, and various increased taxes and insurances, there was still a negative effect of $47. To plentifully offset this deficit (to a generously rounded-up $50, instead of only $47) would only take another salary increase, this year, of: 0.163%, — not 2.5%, not 2.0% or even 1.5%! So, instead of $1.7 million, that raise would only cost us $110,840 — yes?

10. Education: Reminder: Once the Maintenance of Effort (MOE) amount is adopted, it must forever be met every year thereafter. Therefore, I still respectfully request that our commissioners conscientiously oppose the requested Board of Education budget, and especially the proposed MOE request.

Although we are obviously blessed with terrific educators, parents and students, we just simply can’t afford more non-essential spending, without sacrificing too many other aspects of the county. Although cutting-edge technology is most certainly appealing, it has been proven that it is not the “do-all, end-all” that educators are proclaiming. After all, the vast majority of employers do not (and, in fact, could never afford to) go out and buy the newest devices each time they evolve. However, they still manage to substantially compete, due to their learned thinking abilities (involving problem-solving, rationalizing, consequences, alternatives, prevention…logic!) (taught through “the three ‘r’s” and other rigorous curriculum basics).

Not only are our educational requests unaffordable, they’re also self-crippling, inequitable, imbalanced, always inadequate (regardless of how much is ever allocated) and it does nothing to financially discipline us to realistically function responsibly within our means. Not to wear out an old cliché, but our problem is money management, — not money, and if we don’t fix that actual problem, then we are just chasing our own tail, (making utter fools of ourselves, I might add).

Nationwide, — even worldwide, governments everywhere are recognizing the vital (sustaining) need for fiscal discipline and budgetary balance in synergistic collaboration between all components of their entire infrastructure(s), such as education, health, environment, public works and especially responsible voters and taxpayers, to name a few. Can you imagine any of these things effectively functioning independent of the others? If so, please let me know how that can happen. If not, then please don’t let the tail wag the dog (into its own demise). Unfortunately, it has happened in various communities all over the country. We are not immune here.

 As always, I welcome all replies, whether in agreement, disagreement or neutral at: noel55@comcast.net or 410-430-0535. More importantly, though, I urge readers to contact one or more commissioner to express your opposition to any of these compromises. Their contact information is on this web-page link:  http://www.co.worcester.md.us/commissioners/comm.aspx.

Ellie Diegelmann
Ocean City

Parking Study Wasteful

All this arguing and debating so a group of condo owners can have free parking for their guest and a business can have free parking for their guest.

When did it become inherent on the city to supply this? What about the condo owners downtown that have to pay for street parking? Should that all be changed and be free?

Heck let’s make everyone happy just do away with all paid parking altogether in the city.

This ongoing debate is absurd and the idea of wasting a lot of money to do a parking study is ridiculous in a time when the city is trying to cutback expenses.

Just put paid parking on all ocean side streets from 121st to 146st streets and get it over with.
Len Bender
Ocean City

Truth Being Ignored

Has anyone noticed that our country has spent more money than it has to the tune of over $16 trillion in national debt? Does anyone realize that it will take generations of our offspring to pay off this debt? Who do you think will bail us out?

Last week, the National Education Association newsletter instructed its members to put the full court press on Congress to approve the current “immigration” bill – how much could that cost? Evidently, money is no object, especially when it is someone else’s.

I attended the last school board meeting in an attempt to bring my concerns about Common Core to the attention of the bureaucrats and ruling class elite.

The regular meeting format was changed at this meeting so the Board could present their overwhelming collective support for Common Core prior to allowing the citizens to speak. The focus of the presentation was the “curriculum” and the necessity of using electronic tablets or being left in the Stone Age. I do not recall any attempt to address the costs and data mining issues.

Nothing to see here, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.  Apparently, no one in authority in this county has any concern that there is a nationwide protest against this insidious plan.

Now that the Board has secured a promise of yet another salary increase from the County Commissioners for its constituency, their employees’ union dues can be used to continue their supremacy in this county.

I am just a lowly Christian citizen so I will render unto Caesar, but I will not drink your KoolAid. By the grace of God, I will continue to try to speak the truth to the powers that be and pray that their ears will hear.

Gwen L. Cordner