Say No To Petition

Registered voters in Ocean City should not sign the current petition seeking to stall a $12 million bond ordinance that features several significant capital improvement projects.
While we support just about any citizen-initiated protest measure, such as petition drives to place a government matter before city voters at an election, we find this effort to be misdirected and poorly timed.
Included in the bond ordinance under inspection are five significant improvement projects — the performing arts auditorium addition to the convention center, $8.3 million; a new headquarters for the beach patrol, $2 million; an effluent disinfection system, $1.3 million; a new public safety building roof, $630,000; and a new roof for the service center building, $240,000.
The projects with the most public appeal are the performing arts center addition at the convention center and the new beach patrol headquarters downtown. These are two necessary projects, and if successful the petition will delay them until voters get a chance to weigh in, most likely in next November’s election or at the earliest during the June primary.
Petition organizers maintain the performing arts building is the reason for the petition and reported no issues with the other projects. However, since the petition proposed singling out just the arts center was rejected, the entire bond ordinance has been chosen as the subject of the petition. They say larger users of the convention center are unhappy with the auditorium’s small size and its impact on existing exhibit space and that property taxes will have to be raised if food tax money does not meet the city’s expectation of repaying the debt from the center.
Leaving the merit of these claims aside, and there is plenty to debate, these are issues that needed to be addressed over the five-year planning period for this new addition to Ocean City. Dozens of meetings have been held on this project and the state has partnered with the town to make it happen.
Petition opponents are correct when they maintain it will cost city taxpayers money if these projects are shelved indefinitely. It will jeopardize the state’s commitment to the initiative and questions regarding continued financing will result in more expenses along the way.
Our biggest beef with the petition is the timing. No less than 20 stories have been published on this project in this paper. This project has been a long time coming. It’s ironic and ridiculous that the petition drive began the same week as construction commenced. This particular petition does not deserve support.
We feel this project has tremendous potential for Ocean City and its economy. It will help boost mid-week business in the summer seasons through event booking as well as result in new and diverse events in the off-season months that can’t be held in Ocean City currently.