Commission Talks Tourism Budget, Plans To Incorporate Larger Ideas

OCEAN CITY – As officials look to grow tourism and special events, members of a resort commission say they want more detail on what is being requested in the fiscal year 2025 budget.

During an Ocean City Tourism Commission meeting Monday, Tourism and Business Development Director Tom Perlozzo briefed officials on the upcoming budget process. As staff continue to develop budgets for fiscal year 2025, he said he has directed his department heads to incorporate bigger ideas.

“I’ve asked these guys to get out of the box more for fiscal year 2025, to think bigger, and at least allow a discussion with some ideas …,” he said. “It’s not a situation where it’s a need and a want, but it’s where we want to drive, where the vision is taking us with special events, with the convention center, tourism. We want to be able to expand on that.”

Perlozzo also asked for the commission’s help. He said he wanted to incorporate any ideas commission members had into the coming year’s budget.

“Really what I’m saying to you all is if you’ve got an idea for an event you’d like to see, send it our way, because we’re going to make a larger effort in the next three or four months to recruit those events, whether it’s sports, convention center business, six more Oceans Callings, whatever it may be,” he said. “We’re at a time where we’re at a crossroads, and it’s a great opportunity for us. So we could use your help.”

Each year, every department submits its budget for review. Those budgets are then taken into consideration and ultimately presented to the Mayor and Council with proposed cuts.

For his part, Councilman John Gehrig applauded Perlozzo’s directive. He noted, however, that he wanted to see the full list of ideas presented at the Mayor and Council’s budget meeting.

“Can we get all these ideas unfiltered?” he said. “I don’t want anything excluded just because of budget or anything else.”

Perlozzo said some of the ideas his department has pitched included the redevelopment of the Caroline Street stage, and the purchase of marsh mats, which would allow the town to move special events off the Inlet parking lot in an effort to maintain Inlet lot revenue. Gehrig said he wanted the Mayor and Council to hear those ideas.

“Big ideas are great, I love them. But we’ve got to hear them,” he said. “That’s my point. I don’t want to filter them out before they come to the Mayor and Council.”

For his part, City Manager Terry McGean explained that operating budgets were submitted to his office in late November and then reviewed. He said requests that were cut from department budgets were ultimately included in the budget director’s notes to the Mayor and Council.

“You see what’s been requested, and then it goes to you all for a budget hearing …,” he said. “On the capital improvement side, it all gets presented and you rank the projects.”

Gehrig, however, said he wanted all ideas to be brought forward and discussed. He noted that tourism and special events made the town money.

“This comment that it might not get funded, I don’t want any assumptions like that,” he said. “I just want it to be, this is why it should be funded. I don’t want any idea that seems to be too big get cut and left on the floor.”

For his part, Council President Matt James suggested that ideas presented within the tourism departments’ budgets could be discussed at the January commission meeting.

He added that any discussion would be reflected within the meeting minutes, which are sent to the Mayor and Council.

“Then we’ll know what ideas were proposed,” he said. “If there’s any we really like or really dislike we can talk further and in more detail.”

Gehrig agreed.

“I think that’s a great first step,” he replied.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.