County’s Budget Hearing Staying In Snow Hill

SNOW HILL – The county’s annual budget hearing will remain in Snow Hill this year in spite of suggestions that it be moved to the north end of Worcester County.

At a meeting of the Worcester County Commissioners Tuesday, Commissioner Joe Mitrecic expressed interest in holding the annual budget hearing, scheduled to take place at Snow Hill High School May 1, in Berlin. Staff, however, said it was too late to move this year’s hearing to a new location.

“I think we need to seriously look at that next year,” Mitrecic said.

The county’s annual public budget hearing, during which citizens can voice concerns about the proposed budget, is typically held at Snow Hill High School. Mitrecic said he thought the location of the hearing was meant to rotate.

“I was under the impression this hearing was supposed to be moved from the south end of the county to the north end of the county each and every year,” he said.

Harold Higgins, the county’s chief administrative officer, said officials had tried that.

“We found that there was little if any difference in participation,” he said. “Honestly from my perspective it’s easier to go to Snow Hill High School.”

Higgins added that the majority of the attendees were usually associated with the school system and that there was “little representation” from the rest of the county.

Mitrecic said that regardless of attendance the hearing should be held in the northern part of the county sometimes so citizens who lived there didn’t have to travel as far.

Commissioner Jim Bunting said he echoed Mitrecic’s concern.

“I think the opportunity should be offered in the northern end of the county for the voters,” he said.

Church agreed and wanted to make a motion to have this year’s hearing held there. Higgins said that would not be possible, as he typically had to reserve a meeting location at least two months in advance. He added that there were other ways to get input from residents in the Berlin and Ocean City areas.

“A few years ago, I visited various town meetings to make myself available for public comments or input,” he said. “We found that to be fairly effective. It’s all about getting the people out and trying to get their opinion into the process.”

Commissioners Merrill Lockfaw and Ted Elder said they thought Snow Hill was the most central location for the hearing.

“We should keep it in Snow Hill,” Lockfaw said.

Kelly Shannahan told the commissioners that when the hearing was held in Berlin people in Snow Hill and Pocomoke complained that it was too far away.

“You’re never going to satisfy everyone,” he said. “We tried it in the past and it doesn’t really effect the attendance. It appears to be more centrally located in Snow Hill which is the reason we stuck with Snow Hill all these years.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.