City’s Budget Practices Result In Annual Surplus
Based on data from Ocean City’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports for the last eight fiscal years, the Mayor & City Council (M&CC) consistently underestimate revenues and overestimate expenses. From FY15 to FY22, the combined underestimated revenue totaled over $19.8 million, averaging over $2.4 million per year. During that same period, the combined overestimated expenses totaled over $27 million, for an average of nearly $3.4 million per year. When these two categories are added together, it results in an average favorable variance or surplus of over $5.8 million per year.
In FY22 alone, underestimated revenue exceeded $5.7 million and overestimated expenses amounted to over $7.7 million. The combined surplus in these two categories topped $13.4 million. In retrospect, the property tax rate for FY22 could have been lowered by 14.5 cents and the town would have still had a balanced budget. Over several years, repeated attempts to encourage the M&CC for even a modest reduction in the property tax rate have been ignored. When are our elected officials going to adopt fiscal responsibility?
Vincent dePaul Gisriel, Jr.
Couple Shares Pet Experience To Educate
(The following is an open letter to Ocean City area pet owners.)
I am writing this letter to tell you about our horrific puppy story that happened last week. We owned a 6-month-old puppy named Bunker. Bunker was a rescue with Beagle, Husky and Terrier in him. He was super cute and very smart and just brought so much love to our hearts it was amazing. Bunker was healthy and happy last Thursday May 11 while at Coconuts dancing to the Dune Hounds. We have a video. The day was beautiful and afterwards we headed home for dinner. This is when the nightmare begins.
My wife and I fell asleep on the couch and woke around 11 p.m. Bunker was nowhere to be found. We finally found him curled up in a little ball on our shower floor. We could tell he was sick and found some throw up outside. We had him in our bedroom and gave him some water. He looked to be doing a little better. As dog parents we thought maybe he had eaten something at Coconuts that made him sick. Bunker was fine until around 2:30 in the morning. Then it got really bad. Bunker was throwing up yellow bile, then it switched over to blood bile. It was around 3 a.m. now and we jumped in the car and drove to PetER in Salisbury.
When we got there, they took x-rays and told us he had an object stuck in his intestine. They thought maybe a rock. But then they said they could not operate on him because he was too dehydrated and could not give him any anesthesia, so they put an IV in him and told us to wait in our car. And this is why I am writing this letter, because the next two hours no one should have to experience what we went through. PetER called my phone at 6 am. and said they still can’t operate on him because he’s dehydrated and the close at 7 a.m. I was like what? Aren’t you an ER hospital? They handed me back my dying dog at 6:55 a.m. with blood shooting out of his ass and blood vomit all over him and said good luck at Precious Paws Animal Hospital, and by the way, they don’t open up until 8 a.m. How in the world does this vet at PetER not call the vet on her cell phone over at Precious Paws and tell them they have a dying dog coming their way? It truly felt like no one wanted to help.
We arrive at Precious Paws at 7:30 a.m. and had to wait for them to open. At this point Bunker was fighting for his life big time. We finally get in to see the vet and still no one saw the dog until 8:35 a.m. Bunker was in critical condition. The vet said we should say good bye to him. I lost it. I told them to perform emergency surgery on my dog and get that rock out. They did the operation and got the rock out. Bunker was in stable but critical condition. We went home after the operation thinking we were going back at 6 p.m. to take Bunker back to PetER because Precious Paws does not keep animals overnight. But 25 minutes after the operation Bunker’s heart just could not keep going. They called us, we drive back and got to him for them to let him die in our arms.
I’ve never seen my wife of 22 years in so much pain. I crumbled to the floor like a wet rag. I’m writing this letter not trying to put blame on anyone, but want all pet owners around here to understand that we are in a dire need of a real 24-hour PetER hospital in West Ocean City. I just find it so hard to swallow they handed me back my dying dog and damn well knew Precious Paws was not open for another hour. Amazed by the lack of concern from this vet. Bunker was our baby. We have no kids. We are trying to heal and move forward but it’s not very easy. I hope someone who reads this and has some connections in this town, we can try and get a group together and raise money for a proper PetER where the vets actually care about saving your pets. I am going to go cry some more but thank you for taking the time to read this. RIP Bunker.
Rob and Anne-Marie Bouse
No Sense Of Urgency
For a Maintenance of Effort vote taking place last Tuesday, May 9 2023, I am having an extremely hard time understanding why it took the school system’s executive team six days to have a meeting on the budget. They didn’t call an “Emergency Executive Meeting” until Monday, May 15th. If the budget is of such high importance to the superintendent of schools and executive team, why was a meeting on the budget not called the very next day?
That’s a situation you move schedules for. That’s a situation you come in early or stay late for to determine next steps. Instead, the leaders of Worcester County Public Schools decided to go the route of blaming the Commissioners for all their hardships, not taking blame for any issues that continue to arise: lack of transparency and communication.
As a Board member, I have certain expectations. In order to do my due diligence for the citizens I represent, I am tasked to review and understand the agenda set forth for board meetings. I cannot do this task when I am given pertinent information less than an hour before Open Session starts. In my few short months of being sworn in to serve District 6, this is not the first time this has happened. I am struggling with the notion that this is not by happen stance.
Could the board president and superintendent who oversee setting the agenda have miscommunication? Maybe.
Could the executive staff, whom are all making six figure salaries, have dropped the ball on uploading the agenda? Maybe.
Could the last-minute information being presented at the 11th hour be on purpose? Maybe.
No matter what the excuse is for providing last minute, important documentation for review, it’s not acceptable.
In the name of transparency:
Tuesday, May 9: Commissioners voted for Board of Education- Maintenance of Effort
Thursday, May 11: I was told the Superintendent would be reaching out to set up meetings to talk to board members about the Budget
Friday, May 12: I received an email stating the budget meetings would no longer be needed. We would all speak at the Board meeting the following Tuesday.
Saturday, May 13: Agenda received in the morning (typically is received Friday afternoon). Budget discussion was not on agenda.
Monday, May 15: Phone call made to Dr. Wallace for her to inform me that an “Emergency Executive Meeting” occurred that morning and they decided to add a budget discussion to the agenda. I was informed slides were being made and I would receive them when they were completed.
Tuesday, May 16: Received slides between 11:30 a.m.-noon. Board meeting started at 12:30 p.m.
Like they always say, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I will have public comments to say the next time I receive last minute, significant information that is crucial to review ahead of time. The taxpayers deserve to have board members prepared to represent them.
(The writer is a member of Board of Education District 6 Worcester County)