Ocean City Holds Too Much Surplus Money
We continue to read that the Mayor & City Council (M&CC) of the Town of Ocean City are in need of additional revenue. Thus, the push for more parking meters and increased parking fees. In recent strategic planning sessions, funding sources and money appear to be major topics of discussion.
The Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the Fiscal Year (FY) ending June 30, 2019, reveals that the Unassigned General Fund balance is at 27.5%. The Town has a stated policy of maintaining a reserve fund equal to 15% of General Fund expenditures. The 12.5% excess fund balance amounts to over $9.6 million in surplus funds. This is equivalent to 11 cents on the property tax rate.
The CAFR further reveals that the Town closed its books at the end of FY19 with revenue up $1.3 million over budget projections, while expenses were $2.9 million under budget. This created a favorable variance of $4.2 million. The M&CC continue a longstanding pattern of underestimating revenue and overestimating expenses. They have done so every budget year since at least 2013.
Over the last five fiscal years, the town has averaged $1.3 million over budget revenue projections, while averaging $2.3 million under estimated expenditures. During the same five-year period, the average favorable variance is over $3.6 million. Simply put, the M&CC are over-taxing the property owners of Ocean City.
The bottom line is the town has an abundance of surplus money. Don’t be fooled by the M&CC’s recent narrative.
Vincent dePaul Gisriel, Jr.
Vaping Issue Needs Attention
It is time to address the issue of vape pens and juuls in our schools with more than confiscation and suspensions. Students are acquiring not only vape pens, but also, unbeknownst to the user, laced marijuana when “taking a hit from a friend.” They are in danger.
Last year the U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, MD, issued a warning that vaping among youth has reached epidemic levels. Yale Medicine reports, “The numbers are startling. More than 3.6 million middle and high school students currently use e-cigarettes, according to the latest National Youth Tobacco Study. Another national study last year found that 11 percent of high school seniors, 8 percent of 10th-graders, and 3.5 percent of eighth graders vaped with nicotine during a previous one-month period. The worrying part? Young people think vaping is mostly harmless.” Worcester County is not exempt. So what do we do?
The Great American Smokeout event on Nov. 21, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, puts the responsibility of quitting on the smoker to start the journey to being smoke free, but what is our responsibility as a community for middle and high school students that are addicted to vaping? They thought it was harmless. They aren’t smoking cigarettes. Aren’t e-cigarettes marketed as a better alternative and a method to break the smoking habit? Hogan’s health secretary, Robert Neall, acknowledged in The Baltimore Sun that, “the vaping problem is a serious and deadly one.” It is a deadly problem, yet rampant in our local schools. It is against the law in Maryland for them to purchase vape pens, juul pods, and/or marijuana, yet they are; in fact, these juul pods are advertised at Royal Farms directly across the street from Stephen Decatur High School. Yes, young people can purchase them elsewhere, but why is the supply so readily available?
Yes, we need to support students who are addicted with smoking cessation classes, but we need to do more. Worcester County needs to provide an environment that is vape free until they are 21. If they don’t start, they can’t become addicted. Utopia, maybe; however, we owe it to our children to try.
Karen E. Conner
A Special Fall Festival
Last week, a special event was held in West Ocean City. Diakonia held a Fall Festival for their resident guests. I was fortunate to be there to witness the magic.
Costumed children ran from activity to activity, men were playing cornhole toss, everyone enjoyed hot dogs, hamburgers and too many treats to mention.
Diakonia’s staff organized pumpkin decorating, face painting, air-brushed tattoos and even a petting zoo. There were contests for all ages; pie eating, guess the number of candy corn and bobbing for apples. Adults and children filled treat bags with a variety of candies. There was even a petting zoo and a fire pit for roasting marshmallows. It was the perfect Fall celebration full of fun, conversation and smiles.
For a few hours, those facing life’s toughest challenges were able to put aside their concerns and enjoy an evening of pure pleasure.
These types of events are made possible by funds raised through Diakonia’s “Used To Be Mine Thrift Store” sales, fundraisers and monetary, food pantry and item donations. Diakonia’s mission is “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow”. Community support makes this a reality for our neighbors in need.
For more information about Diakonia, upcoming events and to donate, please visit www.diakoniaoc.org.
(The writer is the chair of the Diakonia Board of Directors.)
Recently I have had the pleasure of seeing firsthand what a treasure Salisbury University is to the Eastern Shore.
The Theater and Music Department has put on two performances in the last few weeks that were outstanding – the play “Medea”, based on the Greek Tragedy by Euripides, was wonderful – the acting, the set and costumes. I have rarely seen anything done as well as this.
Until last week when I had the opportunity to see the “Singers’ Showcase – From Ship to Shore: Celebrating 400 Years of Human Resilience Through Music”. The phrase “blown away” has become almost trite in its usage; however, it is the only phrase that really fits the way I and other attendees felt about the production. Dr. John Wesley Wright and the students were amazing – I am not a music or drama critic and do not know the proper verbiage – I can only say “well done” – a beautiful tribute to the resilience of the African slaves brought to America starting in 1619.
I doubt anyone left the theater that night untouched by the tragedy and beauty of this performance.
How About My Rights?
For three years, Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic party, NBC, ABC, CNN and MSNBC have been lying to the American people saying that President Trump had the Russians meddle with the 2016 election. Hillary Clinton paid someone to lie about President Trump. It shouldn’t be long before Hillary is arrested. Hillary was a poor choice for a candidate. What the Democratic party has tried to do to President Trump is disgraceful. President Trump is trying to find out what happened in the 2016 election.
I will not vote for any Democrat for federal or state office since they don’t want to help the American people. They want to let all the immigrants in and take away the rights of the American people and their guns and healthcare.
Nancy Pelosi is breaking the law trying to impeach President Trump and not going to the House of Representatives first.
I am thinking about filing a lawsuit against Nancy Pelosi for taking away rights as an American citizen.