Too Much Taxpayer Subsidizing In Resort
In 2007, the Mayor & City Council (M&CC) of the Town of Ocean City passed an ordinance that established a funding formula wherein an amount equal to 2% of the annual gross room revenue collected by hotels, motels, etc., goes to the town’s advertising budget. From 2008 to 2018, the town’s advertising budget swelled from $2.2 million to $6.9 million. Just recently, a budget amendment increased the $6.9 million to $7.6 million.
The flawed ordinance will continue to overfund advertising, and the M&CC have no intention of correcting the situation. As gross room revenues continue to increase, advertising dollars could quickly rise to $8 or $9 million. How much advertising does the Town need? More importantly, why are we in the advertising business anyway? Advertising is not a function of government. The business community should be funding advertising.
If the $7.6 million in room tax paid by tourists went into the general fund to support public safety, public works, and our beach as opposed to advertising, every property owner in Ocean City could see an 18% decrease in their annual property taxes. Every business in Town would enjoy that same reduction, and thus have funds to spend on advertising as they deemed fit. Businesses could pool their advertising dollars with other businesses to increase their marketing exposure. The Chamber of Commerce could be involved in the coordination of advertising and marketing for the town and regional business community.
To complicate matters, the M&CC are also exploring the youth sports market. Part of the justification for their recent request to raise the room tax to 5% is to explore a sports complex just outside Ocean City. The M&CC have authorized a study to further determine the feasibility. However, the results of that study may be months away, and it remains to be seen whether the consultants come back with a favorable recommendation. To date, there has been no polling of the citizens to determine if they will support such a facility.
A 2017 study conducted for Worcester County revealed that such a sports complex would require an annual subsidy of 25%, not to mention the cost to build it. The county study also reflects that some individuals involved in putting together sports tournaments indicated concerns about the possibility of oversaturation of these facilities in the region. The County Commissioners rejected the concept at that time, in part because their staff found the economic impact to be overly optimistic.
How many projects are the property taxpayers of Ocean City expected to subsidize? We already subsidize the convention center, Eagles Landing Golf Course, the airport, advertising and a whole host of “free” events. When is enough, enough?
Vincent dePaul Gisriel, Jr.
It Takes A Village For A Great Peach Festival
The Berlin Heritage Foundation’s Peach Festival Committee extends a heartfelt thanks to all those who made our 10th annual festival a great success.
We are grateful to all those who donated funds, prizes or in-kind services, volunteered, performed, demonstrated and sold crafts and art, shared educational information, provided delicious food and beverages, judged pies, dared to join in a pie-eating contest or sport a tattoo.
What a festive day in Berlin.
The Peach Festival Committee
Agencies Thanked For Attending Discussion
Worcester County NAACP held a “Neighborhood Policing” discussion with Worcester County law enforcement on Aug. 15. The law enforcement professionals who donated their time and expertise are appreciated.
The practice of community policing involves getting to know your community, partnering with citizen groups and individuals, crime prevention, and being a resource, not a threat, to fellow residents. This initiative is crucial to public safety.
The Worcester County Sheriff’s Department was represented by Sheriff Matt Crisafulli and Captain Dods. Thanks also to Chief Arnold Downing, Berlin; Chief David Massey, Ocean Pines; Lieutenant Brian Craven, Pocomoke; and Chief Andy McGee, Snow Hill. There were so many years of faithful service to our community within our August meeting.
Ivory P. Smith
(The writer is the president of the Worcester County NAACP.)