The Ocean City Mayor and Council are principled on certain matters. However, some votes specifically contradict these positions.
This council has proven over the last six months to be a compelling and productive body. The elected officials differ on much, but they are respectful to each other while explaining their various positions. It’s providing solid representation and we applaud this council’s proclivity to hash out the issues in council chambers. The general public wins when views are stated clearly and positions are expressed with vigor.
While this open type of governance is laudable, the council’s freewheeling nature leads to compelling dialogue that at times raises questions about consistent methodologies across the variety of issues presented before the elected officials.
This inconsistency was on display this week when prolonged conversations took place regarding a potential revisiting of the council’s denial of a funding commitment request from Atlantic General Hospital for its capital campaign and a proposal to become a $25,000 sponsorship for OC BikeFest.
Clearly, the council would prefer Worcester County handle funding AGH with Ocean City’s vast funneling of tax revenue to county government. Worcester did its part by funding $75,000 to AGH through a general grant and an additional $100,000 commitment to the hospital’s major capital campaign. During this week’s discussion, Ocean City was noncommittal about a fiscal donation to the campaign, but it did vow to revisit the situation after this fiscal year is wrapped up through a possible amendment in the new budget year.
While Ocean City was fiscally guarded with support of the hospital — unnecessarily so in our opinion — five of the seven council members had little qualms with spending $25,000 to sponsor a for-profit venture under the guise of promoting fall special events.
This is a highly questionable sponsorship, one that will invariably have a low rate of return on investment. The problem is it’s going to be difficult to gauge the success of the sponsorship on attendance at the future events.
The timing of the sponsorship approval is also odd. It came on the heels of a decision last week to permit liquor sales at OC BikeFest to help boost revenues for the event. That’s essentially financial support for the event as well.
The council looks lopsided here. On one hand, it doesn’t want to support the non-profit hospital over an ethical issue of “double donation,” while contributing way too much direct funding and indirect support through in-kind services for a large-scale special event. This makes the council’s priorities seem out of whack.