“Without Ocean City, Worcester County would be Somerset County,” former Worcester County Commissioner Granville Trimper once said in the face of concerns from south-end commissioners about Ocean City favoritism.
Though it was said in a frustrated state back in the late 1990s, Trimper’s comments remain accurate today, particularly when it comes to tax revenue. Look no further than the latest round of property reassessments in Worcester County for evidence.
Ocean City’s residential and commercial properties were evaluated in the most recent process. The result was an astonishing 46% spike in overall property values. For residential only, a 48% increase was seen, from $7.8 billion in 2021 to $11.5 billion in 2024. For commercial only, there was a 33% jump over three years, from $926 million to $1.2 billion. In total, Ocean City’s residential and commercial property values jump from $8.7 billion to $12.8 billion.
A statewide comparison shows Worcester led the state in property value increase when residential and commercial are evaluated together. These incredible spikes in property in millions of dollars of new tax revenue to the county.
Since most residential properties in Ocean City are second homes and not eligible for the Homestead Tax Credit, the county has hit the property tax lottery. How much in new revenue exactly will come into the county will come into focus in the spring, but it will be in the millions.
It’s a good situation for the county’s elected officials to be in, but it comes with pressure as residents and businesses expect proper decisions to follow this windfall. The new funding must be put to good use and not simply banked to boost reserves and budget stabilization accounts to irresponsible levels. A property tax decrease is unlikely, but some of this pot of new funding from Ocean City should certainly be used for education and ensuring the county’s educators do not continue to look elsewhere for employment.
All eyes will be on the County Commissioners to ensure proper discretion is used with these new funds, which need to be directed toward the greatest immediate needs of this county.