Mayor Jay Gillian's administration delivered a draft budget on Thursday night (Feb. 14) that asks local taxpayers for just 1 percent more in 2013 than in 2012.
The proposed budget of $70,957,959 represents a $2.2 million (or 3.27 percent) increase over last year's $68.7 million budget. But because projected local revenue (largely from parking, construction code and Aquatics and Fitness Center fees) increases by $2 million, the draft budget increases the tax levy ($43.7 million for 2013) by just $440,390.
But while Ocean City taxpayers on average will pay just 1 percent more in taxes next year, who pays more and who pays less will depend on whose property assessments were changed. Through tax appeals, storm-damage reassessments and a regularly scheduled program of reassessments to select areas, Ocean City's ratable base fell by 6.96 percent. The proposed tax rate climbs by 8.315 percent.
Owners whose properties were reassessed (on average) will pay less in taxes (as the decrease in their property value will more than offset the rate increase). But owners whose properties were not reassessed will pay 8.315 percent more in taxes.
Ocean City's overall ratable base falls from $12.2 billion to $11.3 billion.
"The lion's share of that decrease will be from the compliance plan (the city's reassessment project), but appeals and storm damage assessments are pieces of that decrease as well," Finance Director Frank Donato had said in January.
Business Administrator Mike Dattilo said Thursday that with the majority of the compliance plan complete, the ratable base will begin to stabilize for future budgets.
City Council will meet for public budget workshops on Wednesday, Feb. 20 (revenues) and Thursday, Feb. 21 (appropriations) as they work toward approving a final budget by spring for a fiscal year that starts July 1.
See a summary of the proposed budget by clicking on the PDF icon above. The full proposed budget will be posted on the City of Ocean City website and linked from this story on Friday.
The mayor's delivery of the budget to council members was accompanied by remarks (read full text) that called the proposal "responsible and fair" and noted new labor contracts that the mayor called fair to both municipal employees and taxpayers.
Gillian's remarks also noted the continued development of "the most aggressive capital plan in the city's history."