Reserve Fund Growth Confirms OC Overtaxing
The Mayor & City Council of the Town of Ocean City continue to overtax the property owners. The Town has a stated policy of maintaining 15% of General Fund expenditures as a Reserve Fund. Over the last seven Fiscal Years (FY), the Unassigned General Fund balance or Reserve Fund grew steadily from 21.6% in FY15 to 29.6% in FY20. With the release of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for FY21, we find that the Town had an Unassigned General Fund balance of 36.9% as of June 30, 2021.
These excess reserves are over $17,000,000 more than the 15% needed to be in compliance with the reserve policy. This excess amount is the equivalent of 18.5 cents on the property tax rate. In other words, the Town could have lowered the property tax rate in FY21 by 40% and still maintained its reserve policy.
Further review of the CAFR reveals that revenue for FY21 exceeded budget estimates by over $4.6 million, while expenditures were over $5.7 million less than anticipated. This combined with other factors shows a favorable variance of over $10.6 million.
With this continued trend year after year, it is easy to see that we are being overtaxed.
Vincent dePaul Gisriel, Jr.
Support For Wind Farm
I have been coming to Ocean City for all of my 58 years as a tourist and for business and I’m in favor of the wind turbines off Maryland’s coast. I recently saw some letters to the editor that I wanted to respond to.
It’s not right that a small group of people with the loudest voices should have the biggest say in this decision when there is so much at stake with the health of our state’s environment. For years Maryland’s citizens and waterways have been victims of pollution from coal fired power plants. Maryland has been a leader in making the changes to improve our waters but it’s time for the next step to combat sea level rise due to climate change. Wind energy off our coast is a no-brainer. There will always be wind.
Although the number of windmills has changed, there are now fewer and they are farther out to sea. They started with 187 and are now down to about 107. Only one will be 13 miles out with most at 17-27 miles away and the projects are 100% privately funded. The view from the shore is inconsequential.
Federal agencies and NGOs took great pains to properly site the 80,000-acre Maryland lease area to avoid fishing, shipping, and wildlife impacts. Impacts to migratory birds are minimal outside 10 miles, and impacts to whales and shipping lanes a serious problem outside 28 miles, the lease area, at 12-27 miles, was perfectly sited by the Department of the Interior.
As an environmental professional, I trust that US Wind has taken every measure of caution enlisting University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and others to conduct bird and marine mammal studies, gathering critical scientific data on birds, sea turtles and marine mammals. The turbine structures will be great habitat for fishing too!
Also, there will be 3,500 direct construction jobs, and more than $1 billion in labor income over 20 years and an increase in Maryland’s GDP by $6.9 billion over 20 years.
Change can be scary, but so is failure. Let’s embrace the future and reap the benefits.
Northing Wrong With Mural
To the people who have been “protesting” the Pocomoke High School diversity mural online and at school board meetings, I only have one thing to say to you.
If you believe the mural at Pocomoke High School that says “Your voice matters. Speak Up.” and highlights the worth of women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, disabilities, and various religions is “communist propaganda” and “radical” not only are you a complete snowflake, but you are also broadcasting to the world that you are a terrible person.
I strongly consider you re-evaluating your values and life in general if you are offended by and want to cancel a mural that helps these communities feel like they have a voice, that they are respected and cared about, and that they are an integral part of our Lower Shore community.
It is up to the decency people of the Lower Shore to show up and vote in 2022. If we fail to do so, our children’s education and future will be controlled by snowflakes, clowns, anti-semites, the far-right, and other radical groups that occupy society’s fringe.
(The writer is the chair of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus.)
Balance Needed On Environment, Economy
For too long, the US government has put the economy over the issue of climate change. Both hold great importance, but I argue that the environment as a whole and the state of the planet for years to come is a far more significant and time-sensitive issue than preserving the American economy. This can be seen in several previous Trump-era policies or rather the lack thereof. Former President Trump was known for his environmental deregulation, hoping that this would improve the US economy and boost GDP. He openly voiced his support for coal miners and big oil on several occasions and completely overturned several environmental regulation policies including those meant to regulate air pollution, water pollution, chemical safety, drilling and extraction, and many more. He even pulled the United States out of the highly supported Paris Climate Agreement in which almost every nation on Earth has been in support of.
This pattern of looser environmental regulations made by those in office has the opposite intended effect. The environment itself has a significant impact on the US economy. We need the environment to provide us with food and clean water, clean air, normal weather patterns, and different cultural and recreational services. With decreased environmental regulation comes climate change approaching at a faster rate which will cause extreme weather events, higher temperatures, higher sea levels, and increased habitat and species loss among many other adverse effects. This in turn can greatly affect the economy by weakening our food supply, destroying infrastructure and factories, harming trade overseas, and increased health problems across the country which will no doubt take a toll on GDP.
Climate change for too long has been overlooked and underestimated by our government. With the Biden administration taking office, the health of the planet is being pushed higher on America’s list of priorities. While President Biden has implemented new environmental regulation policies that will help protect the Earth for years to come, reinstated previously overturned Trump era environmental policies, and not to mention rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, this is not enough. There needs to be higher carbon taxes on businesses, stronger protections on wetlands and forests, more renewable energy sources, stronger EPA oversight, and stricter laws that protect threatened or endangered species if we are to truly make a bigger difference.
Overall, the United States is responsible for an extreme amount of greenhouse gas emissions every year. The greed and neglect of our government is destroying our planet and before we know it, Earth will be long past saving and the government’s addiction to preserving the US economy in the short term will be to blame. Americans cannot wait for our government to magically come to its senses. We need to vote for congressmen/women, local officials, and presidential candidates that take climate change seriously and will take immediate, drastic action. For example, deals like the Green New Deal will welcome a new economy based on renewable energy and significantly eliminating carbon emissions within the United States. But Democrats have struggled for years to get this deal passed.
In short, while the US economy is very important to the government, its citizens, and everyone in between, our environment needs our immediate attention. The US government needs to drastically reorganize its priorities and implement new climate policies that help the planet and break our chains with big oil and gas. A quote from University of Arizona professor, Guy McPherson, summarizes this perfectly, “if you think the economy is more important than the environment, try holding your breath while counting your money.”