BERLIN – Municipal officials highlighted the town’s priorities during a recent meeting with the Eastern Shore delegation.
Sen. Mary Beth Carozza, Del. Wayne Hartman and Del. Charles Otto met with Mayor Zack Tyndall and members of the Berlin Town Council in December. While the town’s leaders sought support for initiatives the town is pushing, the state representatives provided updates on issues at the state level.
“Thank you for your public service,” Carozza said. “You’re on the front lines and you often hear first and give us the best information so these type of forums are beneficial for both us and our shared constituents.”
Carozza kicked off the discussion by highlighting issues she expected to be addressed in the coming year, including public safety and crime as well as budget constraints.
“This will be a tough budget year,” she said.
Carozza referenced the governor’s recent announcement regarding transportation spending cuts.
“There’s a list of projects impacted,” Hartman said. “Right now there’s nothing I saw there that impacts anything in Worcester County.”
Otto also voiced support for making sure local municipalities got their share of transportation funding.
“We’ve been fighting for the highway user revenues for years,” he said.
Tyndall noted that thanks to the efforts of the Maryland Municipal League (MML) and lawmakers, the Town of Berlin had received $245,000 in highway user revenues last year and expected to receive slightly more this year.
“It really does help at the local level tremendously,” he said.
Carozza said strides had been made in recent years as far as restoring highway user revenues to local jurisdictions.
“With municipalities and counties making it a top priority, we’re going to do everything we can to work with you to hold our own on those highway user funds,” she said. “Our shared focus should be making sure our shore receives its fair share of those dollars.”
She said much of what was driving the budgetary issues was spending related to the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. She said there was the possibility that some of the timelines associated with the education reform initiative could be changed.
“If we can adjust some timelines it can free up some of the budget commitments that have been made,” Carozza said. “Then we can look at where we can spend some of these funds in other priority areas.”
Hartman and Otto both stressed their support for tourism initiatives that might help the local area.
“That’s a no brainer,” Otto said.
Hartman stressed that tourism and economic development were partners that were both critical to the resort area.
“The two need to exist and work together to be successful,” he said.
The state officials reminded councilmembers of their various committee appointments and encouraged Berlin’s elected officials to reach out directly any time there were issues they were concerned about.
“Prioritization is going to be very important in this tight budget climate …,” Carozza said, adding that whatever the issue she’d like to hear about it early from the town so she could work with municipal leaders to strategize and create a plan to move forward.
The senator added that she wanted to hear from municipalities in her district, not just MML.
“It’s helpful for us to hear directly from you,” she said.