Ocean City is not going to get its tax differential. The town is seeking a tax setoff, also known as a tax differential, for services it provides outside of municipal limits. The resort estimates it costs nearly $14 million a year for it to provide government services outside Ocean City. Therefore, that’s the amount of county property taxes Ocean City should not be paying, according to city officials and substantiated by an outside agency. There’s a lot to this issue, including significant differences between county and city officials, but the bottom line is the county is not going to go for it. Previous comments from most County Commissioners have made that clear and a county press release this week served as further confirmation. If the county were to grant the tax differential, the release said residential taxes would have to be significantly increased and programs and services cut including public education. The press release’s findings can surely be debated by Ocean City, but what’s inevitable is a majority of commissioners will never go for it. The only option the city has on the table is to try its hand through the legislature, but that will be an impossible fight without the county’s blessing.
It was interesting to see a uniformed Ocean City police officer at this week’s Ocean City Mayor and Council meeting. Many in attendance figured the officer was standing guard at City Hall to maintain peace and order during what promised to be a contentious fire service discussion. However, the officer stayed around after that issue was voted on and apparently could be a fixture at future meetings. It’s a trend that could be found across the country after the recent shooting in Missouri when a man walked into a public meeting and opened fire, killing five people including two police officers. It would seem unnecessary in our area, but I’m sure the folks in Kirkwood, Mo. felt the same way before that incident earlier this month. Some may say it’s not a good use of police manpower, but I think it’s a good idea. If it’s acceptable for city police officers to still hand deliver the council packets to the elected officials at their homes, it’s okay by me for a cop to observe their public meetings.
Local artists Kevin Fitzgerald and Patrick Henry are to be commended for their collaboration and creation of the Stephen Decatur High School Art Scholarship. These are two of the most talented artists in the region, and their philanthropic spirit was on display for all to see at the Water’s Edge Gallery in Berlin last Friday. The two kicked off a benefit show with all proceeds from the wonderful art on display reportedly being directed to the scholarship fund, which will benefit students hoping to pursue a career in art after leaving high school. The scholarship is a great idea, but donating art work to be sold to fund it is an even better thought.
Seventy years ago this fall, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who served as the 32nd president from 1933-1945, visited Berlin. The folks at the Berlin Heritage Foundation want to commemorate the anniversary and are seeking pieces related to the historic visit to determine how to mark the occasion. If anyone has any photographs, banners, newspaper clippings, souvenirs or any other items, please call Susan Taylor at 410-641-1019 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Speaking of presidents, it seems fairly safe to say my prediction for this fall’s general election was a bit off. Readers may remember I gave my 2008 predictions on Dec. 28, 2007 including a gem that Hillary Clinton would defeat Rudy Giuliani to become president. Well, the former New York mayor bowed out weeks ago after a humiliating campaign and subsequently endorsed Republican Sen. John McCain, in the hopes of a cabinet post in his administration, and Clinton appears to be on her way to losing the Democratic nomination to Sen. Barack Obama. The crystal ball was a bit clouded on that day.