Once again, the Ocean City Mayor and Council has demonstrated an inability to be consistent with decisions.
While taking a case-by-case approach to matters is a sound policy in this ever-changing culture, there must be a semblance of a policy guiding the decision making. The city’s strategic plan model is to be the guide in typical situations and maybe still is used as a reminder of the priorities of the city moving ahead. The strategic plan is supposed to guide the city’s leaders in governing the city. We are confident public safety remains a top pillar of the document.
It’s become clear this council is a divided group. The schism among officials might explain why the body has become inconsistent with decisions. The division could also simply be the changing nature of the pandemic and representative of the extreme viewpoints present in society in general. Whatever the case, this week’s 6-1 decision to not allow the police department to purchase a mule-style, all-terrain vehicle for the Boardwalk and beach is vexing.
The $20,000 vehicle, which would be retrofitted for the police department and allow for a visible and multi-dimension presence on the boards, would be largely covered by savings from another police department project and other areas of the current budget. The vehicle was essentially to be purchased without an impact on the city’s budget since the funds to be used are already allocated to the department.
The council’s micromanaging of this purchase is disturbing and unacceptable in light of the recent decision to bail out the OC Air Show with an absurd $100,000 allocation. The city never should have issued the extra funds for the air show in addition to what is already committed on an annual basis. The council will be dealing with the precedent set with that lamebrained call for years to come, as other special events will surely follow with unjustified emergency funding requests.
To deny a police department purchase six weeks after a disturbing stretch of violent crime on the Boardwalk is implausible. The council should have allowed the police department to buy this vehicle and get busy retrofitting it for next spring. To hide behind the concept of being financially conservative in uncertain times is despicable.
The council agreed to revisit the matter during budget talks next year, but there’s no reason to kick this acquisition down the road. The money is in the budget, but the council would rather delay this buy to save money. Th rationale is laughable when compared to other recent decisions.
The denial came at the same meeting the council did not rule out a potential cost of $50,000 to $100,000 to hastily throw together a smaller scale replacement event for Sunfest that will have no economic impact on the resort.
Yes, the council might spend $50,000 on the conservative side to hold a questionable special event requiring effort and expense without any idea of whether it will be a success. It’s a huge risk. The fact it’s even being considers confirms this council continues to be inconsistent and hypocritical.