Contrasting Figures
Simple To Explain
Editor,

In last week’s edition of The Dispatch, in the section Between The Lines, you posed the dilemma of how two key economic indicators for Ocean City, room and food tax and demoflush numbers seemed to be in conflict during certain periods of time. The reason for this is really quite simple.

If the room and food tax is up but the demoflush numbers are down it means that less people are visiting but they are paying higher rates for rooms and higher prices for food. Although to the casual observer, an increase in the room tax and/or food tax might seem like there was an increase in visitors, such is not likely the case.

Room tax measurements would only work if you have the same amount of rooms being rented for the same amount for a specific time period. If a room was rented last year for \$100.00 and the rate is raised this year to \$110.00, the amount of room tax collected would be higher (\$100.00 room rate x 4.5% room tax = \$4.50 room tax collected….\$110.00 room rate x 4.5% room tax = \$4.95 room tax collected ). Thus, the same room resulted in an additional 45 cents being collected and reported for room tax totals. If there are more rental units on the market being rented compared to last year the same increase in room tax totals would apply. Same thing with the food tax, if you sold a hot dog last year for \$2.00 and this year it’s \$2.25 the food tax collected would increase. Also, like room tax, if there were more establishments collecting the food tax this year compared to last year the food tax collected would increase as well.

With the multitude of variables involved, trying to measure visitor count or growth by relying on room tax or food tax totals is virtually impossible.

Dating back to the early 70’s and although far from perfect and often referred to as consistently inconsistent year after year, I believe the official city method of using demoflush figures to measure visitor count and growth is a more realistic measurement tool . A cursory check of the demoflush figures would show that for the past 20 years, despite a huge increase in our advertising budget and large increases in the population of our target markets, Ocean City has averaged about 4.1 million seasonal visitors compared to our highs of about 4.5 million visitors during several seasons in the late 80’s. That’s a staggering difference of about 400,000 visitors per season. Over 20 years, that’s about 8 million potential visitors that we have missed out on.

If you want to talk about how to measure growth or economic indicators, I would suggest this would be a good place to start.

Brent Ashley
Ocean City
(The writer is an Ocean City councilman.)

Support Appreciated
Editor:

Berlin’s Spring Celebration was a wonderfully successful event and we couldn’t have done it without the help of our volunteers, our local merchants and the Town of Berlin.

I wish to thank Shelly Bruder, Bruder Hill Boutique, for chairing the event for the second year, committee members Peggy Hagy of Berlin Coffee House and Steve Barrett of Barrett Chevrolet and to our volunteers — Mike Wiley, Bill Hoshal, Dave Miller, Carolyn Connelly, Liz Walk, Gringo Macia, Karen Clayland, Tanja Giles, Elaine Brady, Larnet St. Amant, Michael Day and Terri Sexton. It isn’t easy organizing our town events but it’s rewarding and we greatly appreciate the time our volunteers take to make our events a success.

I also wish to thank everyone who donated their time and talent to make this day fun for everyone — Worcester County Art Council, Rayne’s Reef, Endeavor Farms, Taylor House Museum, Cupcakes in Bloom, Kimberly Tucker Photography, Troy Mawyer and Adam Bilenki, the Town of Berlin and all the merchants who donated items for the Chinese Auction, which was a big hit.

It is inspiring to see how our community pulls together like a well-oiled machine to continually throw one successful event after another. I’m looking forward to working with all of you again at the Jazz & Blues Bash on May 5.

Olive Mawyer
Berlin
(The writer is the executive director of the Berlin Chamber of Commerce.)

Pet Owners Beware

Editor:

The Waterview massacre can happen to you and your neighbors.

I was away for a few days for work and my wife calls me upset that our cat of almost 17 years is missing. I calm her down on the phone and let her know he will be back. “Pepper” was part of the family and as I pondered I realized that my daughter was three and my son was only one when we got him. I thought to myself, he has no front claws, barely any teeth, has trouble walking around and maybe something attacked him. He would go out for an hour or two at the most, laying on the front or back porch and always back at the door to come in. Well, he usually stays in the yard and surely my family would have seen signs of a struggle if he was attacked. Every day the conversations were the same, we have looked everywhere for him and you could hear the tears falling from the other end of the phone. What a terrible feeling hearing your wife cry and being away.

Even a trip to the West Ocean City Humane Society and no new cats were taken in for two weeks. I arrive home from traveling for work and I receive an e mail from my neighbor that her cat is missing. Now I am worried for other animals in the neighborhood and what about the children. What could be attacking our pets? Why are they missing? Do we have a sick person in the area abusing the animals? I arrived late at night so the next morning I walked the neighborhood to find another neighbor missing a cat and then another…….what is going on? One distraught neighbor who was missing her cat made flyers and put them around the neighborhood with a reward attached. A few hours later I receive a call from her saying that one of our neighbors had been trapping the neighborhood cats and that Animal Control picked them up. He was not only trapping them but putting cat food out in his yard to entice them in.

I could not believe that a neighbor with approximately 15 houses in the entire Waterview Drive neighborhood could do this without letting the entire neighborhood know. I had to find out the truth so I confronted him as he drove down the road. He stopped and we exchanged some choice words. As a matter of fact, I think I invented a few new ones after he admitted to doing so.

Today my family and I got up early to head to Animal Control in Snow Hill and my neighbors were also heading down there. I walk in with my family to be told that the trapping had been going on for a while and that a gray and black cat with stripes was caught on Friday and put down on Tuesday! That is only four days including the weekend when they are closed. I was then told that another cat (orange) belonging to the neighbor up the street was actually put down immediately because it was out of control. As my family started to cry and as I hugged my wife, I was wondering how to tell my daughter that this happened. Well, I just got off the phone with her and it was not an easy thing to do. My son was 1 year old when we got Pepper. He’s never known life without him.

I was told by Animal Control that four cats were caught and my neighbor was told seven cats. I know of five cats missing from the neighbors I talked to so I assume that seven is right. How can these pets have been taken from a small neighborhood without everyone being notified that trapping was taking place and why were they killed so quickly? How can they be baited in? How can Animal Control not notify the few neighbors near the trapping area? One of the families lives approximately 30 feet away, another 60 feet away and I am about 150 feet away. Would this not seem obvious that they may have caught our pets? How can their story change with every person they talk to?

As I drove back from the animal shelter, I found myself driving right past my house and to the trappers. I knocked on his door and let him know that all the cats were dead and to look in my vehicle to see my wife cry and the other neighbors who will soon be doing the same. I have installed some make shifts signs in my yard as I am extremely upset at this entire event and after talking with another neighbor, I found out that my cat was even petted and played with while in the trap. The comment was made that this must be somebody’s baby, he’s so sweet.

The entire event is horrendous. From the neighbor who didn’t have the decency to let anyone know that he was going to do this to Animal Control. There should be some sort of notice given — either a sign put up at the beginning of the neighborhood, notes on doors or even mailed. I believe their policy is to hold the animals 10 days. That’s what many people have told me since. Well, they did not follow their own policy. This should not be allowed to happen to others and policies and procedures need to be either changed or just followed. All of these pets should not have to die in vain.

Matt Odachowski
West Ocean City

Accreditation Earned
Editor:

I am proud to share that Coastal Hospice and Palliative Care has again earned the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval™ for accreditation. By demonstrating compliance with the Joint Commission’s national standards for health care quality and safety in home care, this accreditation award recognizes our dedication to continuous compliance with the Joint Commission’s state of the art standards.

Coastal Hospice underwent a rigorous unannounced on-site survey earlier this year. Joint Commission expert surveyors evaluated us for compliance with standards of care specific to the needs of patients, including infection prevention and control, leadership and medication management.

The Joint Commission’s Home Care Accreditation Program accredits more than 5,600 organizations. The Commission’s standards address the home care organization’s performance in specific areas, and specify requirements to ensure that patient care and services are provided in a safe manner. The Joint Commission develops its standards in consultation with health care experts, providers and researchers, as well as measurement experts, purchasers and consumers.

With this accreditation, we are making a significant investment in quality on a day-to-day basis from the top down. Joint Commission accreditation provides us a framework to take our organization to the next level and helps create a culture of excellence. Achieving Joint Commission accreditation for our organization is an indicator of excellence and we pledge to continue to improve the care we provide to our patients and families in Worcester, Wicomico, Somerset and Dorchester counties.

Alane C. Capen
Salisbury
(The writer is the president of Coastal Hospice & Palliative Care.)

Appalled By Online Fee
Editor:

(The following was addressed to Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan and a copy forwarded to this publication.)

We recently purchased a house in OC and saw on the local channel how to pay bills online.

When we went online to oceancitymd.gov to sign up for on-line bill pay, we were very disappointed to see that customers are being charged extra even if they use a cash draft from their bank. There would be a cold day in OC during the summer, before I would pay extra to give OC the benefit of getting my money faster and easier. I would rather write a check, put a 45-cent stamp on it and then mail it. So my question to you is how do you justify this? Do you really think that the city’s G&A and Overhead to process paper checks and invoices cost less than what a third party company charges?

Secondly, I don’t understand why in this age of technology OC needs a middleman to process e-payments. I recently saw a kid at her lemonade stand use her iPhone with Intuit’s GoPayment app to process sales.

Let me know if that fee is ever dismissed, otherwise keep on expecting my paper checks, in a paper envelope, with my paper invoice that will be hand delivered by USPS, on-time every month, so that your accounts receivable staff can process it by hand.

John Tornillo Ocean City

Too Much Criticism
Editor:

We have great respect for the Ocean City Council, including the majority four. They bear the responsibility for keeping our city afloat. It is not likely that they will be able to make everyone totally happy — employees and tax payers.

It is in this vein that we are very concerned about the chastisement that they received at the council meeting on Monday, April 2. Mr. DeMarco accused the majority of the council of trashing city employees. causing low morale among the ranks.

It is our opinion that the Ocean City government takes good care of its employees. To validate this point, we ask you to study the Annual Report on Salaries of Ocean City employees printed by Ocean City Today, March 12, 2012 and compare the salaries with the Worcester County Salaries printed April 6, 2012. Keep in mind that neither report includes fringe benefits. You might also consider the wages paid to full-time employees by local businesses.

Council person Margaret Pillas states that the proposal to reduce pay and fringe benefits applies only to new hires and should not be a threat to present employees. We approve of this procedure and it is one used by many agencies and companies nationwide.

We are living in tough times and morale can be low for all of us. Let’s let common sense and fiscal restraint prevail.

John and Ann McDermott
Ocean City

Strange Election Calls
Editor:
I am an independent voter, registered as a Democrat, so that I may vote in the primary elections.
I cannot believe the number of phone calls I received from Republican candidates asking for my vote.

This has led me to question the intelligence of these candidates. Don’t they know a registered Democrat cannot vote for a Republican in the primary election?

Joan Revis
Ocean City