Mitrecic Seeking More Equitable Fire Funding For County

OCEAN CITY — Worcester County Commissioner Joe Mitrecic is seeking a more equitable distribution of funds for local fire companies.

At last Monday’s Mayor and Council meeting, Mitrecic delivered his quarterly report on county issues germane to Ocean City including a possible change in the distribution of county funding to the various volunteer fire companies across Worcester. Mitrecic explained it was his understanding the volunteer fire companies from one end of Worcester to the other would likely be seeking a funding increase from the county in the upcoming budget cycle and he was intent on making sure Ocean City got a proportionate share.

As it stands now, the fire companies across Worcester are given the same amount of grant funding from the county each year regardless of their size or coverage areas. For example, the county’s fiscal year 2017 budget included an increase of roughly $200,000 last year, which provided each volunteer fire company an additional $10,000. Mitrecic told the council on Monday he would be seeking a more equitable distribution of the grant funding.

“The volunteer fire departments are asking the county for more grants,” he said. “I’ve raised the issue that Ocean City has five houses and gets the same amount of grant money as say Girdletree, which has one house. Berlin has two houses and Ocean Pines has two houses, but the rest of the county departments just have one house, and yet they all receive the same amount of money from the county.”

During the same discussion, Mitrecic told the council rapid growth in West Ocean City could lead to a reconfiguration of the ambulance and emergency services protection provided in the area. Currently, Ocean City provides fire and ambulance service to much of West Ocean City, but there could come a time when a stand-alone ambulance service would be needed in the area.

“West Ocean City is growing rather rapidly,” he said. “I think there are four new hotels with another one coming on line, and there are so many commercial and residential properties going up there. At some point in time, it’s going to be beyond the realm of Ocean City to cover all of that. I want to bring that issue into the discussion.”

Mitrecic suggested there could be a stand-alone volunteer ambulance company in West Ocean City in the future and suggested it could collaborate with Ocean City to everyone’s benefit.

“Possibly down the road if we do have ambulance crews out there, maybe they can rent space from Ocean City volunteer company at Keyser Point Road,” he said. “That would help our volunteers and could allow Ocean City to fund some of its stuff out there also.”