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Mayor Introduces $72 Million Budget Calling for 4.09 Percent Tax Rate Increase

Residents may see a 1.5 cent tax rate increase.

Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian (File photo)
Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian (File photo)
Calling the financial condition of Ocean City stable, Mayor Jay Gillian introduced a $$72 million budget that calls for a 4.09 percent tax rate increase at Thursday night’s council meeting at the Ocean City Free Public Library.

The total amount of the budget is $72,710,533.15, with $44,934,394.08 to be raised through taxation. This translates to a 1.5 cent tax rate increase, which the mayor said was due in part to a reduction in ratables over the last year. Property values fell by 1.17 percent from the previous year, dropping from $11,316,442,065 to $11,183,675,429.

Gillian highlighted construction in the city, but also spoke of those who remain without a home since Hurricane Sandy hit the state in 2012.

He spoke about the high level of construction in the city, due in large part to the continuing recovery from Sandy. He pointed to last year at the same time, a little less than four months after the storm hit, when the city was still trying to find a way to recover.

He said the city was better off one year later, but added his enthusiasm for the recovery is “tempered by the fact that some people still have not returned to their homes.”

“We all know business and home owners who remain frustrated,” Gillian said. “Some have received grants, but too many have either been denied or sit in limbo. We continue to urge our state and federal legislators to complete the recovery for everybody.”

He also said the city is committed to rebuilding the 29th Street Fire Station and maintaining a total of three fire stations, despite resistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

At the same time, both the fire department and the police department are facing reductions.

The city reduced its police force by one officer, down to 57 from 58 last year, Gillian said. The fire department will reduce its overtime budget by $200,000 from last year. Both departments will employ seasonal help.

“My direction to the police chief and the fire chief was the same as the other department heads: do not compromise service levels in any way, but deliver these services in the most cost-effective manner possible,” Gillian said.

He claimed the city’s $5.8 million fund balance is the highest in the history of the city.

“So in the year following Hurricane Sandy, and in a year with a somewhat soft tourism season and a very rainy start to the season, we finished with the highest fund balance in our city’s history,” Gillian said.

Later in the night, council approved an ordinance on first reading that allows for the spending of $9,319,000 and borrowing $8,853,050 for capital improvements, including repairs to the beachfront, the repair of various streets, alleys and bulkheads and the repair of public buildings and facilities.

Thursday night’s introduction was the beginning of the process. Public work shops will be held Feb. 19 and 20 at the library.

Frank February 14, 2014 at 10:20 PM
I always believe there is room for improvement. However, I do not believe that everything is not working properly. I also detest problematic people.
Tom Kline February 15, 2014 at 07:09 AM
The powers running OC fully acknowledge (in Private) that there is not a damn thing us "Shoebie's" can do but say thank you may I have another.
Joe February 15, 2014 at 09:43 AM
Typical Government mindset. Spend what you want and then figure out how to pay for it. Just the opposite of what every homeowner in the country is suppose to do. Half the stormdrains in the city back up at high tide causing flooding and a horrendous smell, yet they'll spend $250,000 on a skate board park...
Steve February 15, 2014 at 10:47 AM
Totally unacceptable. Higher taxes for little services. $200K cut for Fireman overtime? Three firehouses for an islands this small. Fifty eight policeman?? C'mon!!
Tom Kline February 15, 2014 at 10:51 AM
I SAY VOTE THEM OUT BUT WE HAVE NO VOTE.
vic February 15, 2014 at 11:18 AM
that's the problem with 2nd home owners. you think that you can do things better than the permanent home owners in ocean city. if you could vote here, things would be different. just vote everybody out. well, quess what? we did vote them out. 4 out of the 7 councilmen are serving their 1st term, and the mayor is a 1st term mayor. we still have the same problems, the same complaints and the same lack of solutions. what's the answer?
Tom Kline February 15, 2014 at 11:27 AM
We can that's why we can afford 2nd and sometimes 3rd homes. Keep in mind we PAY taxes on these properties and should have a vote, period.
WDH February 15, 2014 at 11:51 AM
Shoobies...Ya gotta love them... when you see the enjoyment of the families visiting our island for a short period of time and you know we have OC all year round...wow.. 2nd home owners have a way to express themselves, through their committee person. Our family was a visiting family for over 25 years before we bought in 98 and moved here in 2007. Been on both all 3 sides of the argument. Hinchman? Man, that guy works hard to uncover things he thinks need improving. Don't like his style? Get over it. Listen to the value of what he says and does. Always surprised at the nasty comments....I read. Takes me back to when my children would misbehave... but they were children.
Arthur Kirkland February 15, 2014 at 12:04 PM
Joe Finio, I absolutely agree with you, they should be cutting first. Just look at the bloated salary schedules. But my point also was that there has been a decrease in property values, especially since Sandy, and instead of cherry picking who gets reassessed, the whole island should be reassessed. That would mean that taxes would probably go up, but for everyone, and at least everyone would be paying their fair share. I do not mind paying taxes, but not when the system is rigged in favor of those who belong to the "club".
Frank February 15, 2014 at 01:48 PM
Welcome to America!
vic February 15, 2014 at 01:58 PM
sorry tom, but it's a state law in both PA and NJ (I don't know about the other states) but you can only vote where you have you're primary residence. many permanent residents In ocean city cannot vote in ocean city because, for tax reasons, they have established their primary residence in florida.
Frank February 15, 2014 at 02:09 PM
Vic - I was just about to post the same thing.
Joe Finio February 15, 2014 at 03:34 PM
Arthur I understand what you are saying but those words 'fair share' as you know, are being tossed around frequently, on a national level. I reject the use of the words fair share unless the laws are applied equally and the reasons for the increases can be justified, for all. What is fair share? Is it fair share to deny me a second floor on my property when there are three triplexes directly across the street? When there is a monstrosity barn of a house 1/2 block from me that in no way fits in with the rest of the neighborhood? To send me a letter that indicates I will have to pay a fine unless I quickly drive to Ocean City to fix ONE piece of siding that came loose? Is that fair? Also, since there seems to be a frequent inclination to downplay part time residents, how about this. How about reducing my taxes by 50%? After all, by your own words, that would be fair share. About 50% of my 'usage' of Ocean City services reduces by that amount every year. But I am not asking for that. The 'fair share' argument is a dodge. The real issue, first, is the reason for requesting a tax increase. Why? How is the money being spent? Then everything else, follows. By saying 'fair share' we throw the focus off of the real issue. No offense Arthur, it is just a comment. Lastly, everyone, I love Ocean City, My family loves Ocean City, you have a fabulous town. I think it's the best, better than any town from Atlantic City to Cape May, bar none. My Mom and Dad who have since passed away worked really hard to buy that house and we will be there for years.That's it for me. Thank you everyone for 'listening'.
vic February 15, 2014 at 04:04 PM
joe I have to laugh at the tumultuous hours spent by our planning board and city council arguing over various changes to our master plans. then there are people like eric who cry continuously about overdevelopment. what it all comes down to is hiring the right attorney, the right architect and then obtaining a variance from the zoning board. that's why you see so much "variance" in your neighborhood and eric gets so upset. it appears to me that approximately 80% of variance appeals are granted. try it. there's a good chance it will work for you.
Big c February 15, 2014 at 04:29 PM
Vic, why is it that you have to hire the RIGHT attorney, and the RIGHT architect. This town is a joke!
Charlene February 15, 2014 at 05:38 PM
It always comes down to who has what money in this town. I watch people get away with some serious crimes here but if they didnt have the money they would be in jail for many years...
WDH February 15, 2014 at 05:45 PM
Charlene....name names.
Frank February 15, 2014 at 05:46 PM
Charlene your theory is not limited to this town. It is an unfortunate reality in this country. The haves and the have nots.
vic February 15, 2014 at 06:30 PM
you have to hire the right attorney and the right architect because they are the ones that know how to navigate through the proper channels in order to get results.
Tom Kline February 15, 2014 at 07:12 PM
Pay property Taxes and you should have a say "vote" on how those taxes are spent. This is one of many laws that need to be changed.
Eric Sauder February 15, 2014 at 09:35 PM
What Vic is saying about the "proper channels" is that you need to be, or employ, an insider to get things done.
vic February 15, 2014 at 11:58 PM
eric, did it ever occur to you that people invest in ocean city in order to make money. what is this phobia you have against people investing money. when did that become a crime. it's been these investors who have kept ocean city successful instead of sliding downhill like wildwood, Asbury park, seaside heights, etc. where there has been little redevelopment, and the towns are deteriorating rapidly. is that what you want ocean city to become because that's what happens when you don't consistently upgrade. you just don't get it.
Frank February 16, 2014 at 12:29 AM
Eric - The open space we have is not used. All tourist towns are about making $. Do you not realize this administration (Mayor) has put a plan in place to catch up from DECADES of infrastructure neglect? The sins of the past can not be corrected over night. They do not need to move (and they will not) YOU need to move on (and you will)!!!
Eric Sauder February 16, 2014 at 12:34 AM
Steve overtime alone in FD was around a $511,000 last year and has been climbing steadily for years. So when they say they're BUDGETING for a reduction of $200,000 in overtime that helps put it in perspective. The amount of overtime paid out in the PD was around $457,000. There are over 200 people working for the city (outside the school district) whose total compensation is 6 figures. I posted compensation for the PD and FD on my blog Counter Point. Maybe I'll post a few other departments soon since the budget is coming out. Ocean City also has the second highest paid teachers in the state. Less than 40% of the students who attend our high school live in Ocean City. I heard that only 30% of the people who work for the city live in the city. Ocean City is one huge money making machine for the people who are connected with it. And that is why its so hard to change it. Its really not as much of a government as it is a closed corporation
vic February 16, 2014 at 11:27 AM
eric, you deleted your comment about turning the coggins site into a play area and not having enough green space, but don't you know that we already have a playground just 1 block away on bay ave. as far as more green space, can there be any more green space than we already have. it's called THE BEACH!
Eric Sauder February 16, 2014 at 12:00 PM
OK I apologize for going off track once again and deleted several of my comments. Once you broach certain topics you start a chain reaction. In my mind its all related. It's all symptomatic of a government that is serving its sponsors instead to the community. As soon as these elections are over there will be another attempt to use tax dollars as start up money for private business. Keep the money coming folks. They have plans for it.
Eric Sauder February 16, 2014 at 12:35 PM
Vic there was much more to those comments that you aren't addressing but we're off subject here. Specifically I wasn't aware that there was a playground / park similar to the one at 34th Street in that area, but you can be sure I'll look for it. For anyone that is interested and commented on this thread, you can read the email notifications (like Vic did.)
Frank February 16, 2014 at 03:02 PM
Eric you are like a broken record. No government in this country actually serves the people.
Frank February 16, 2014 at 03:02 PM
Its all propaganda
wendy smith February 17, 2014 at 02:17 PM
OK, so what about the southend beaches? The March date given as start time for the replenishment is simply a "mirage". I do recall, being told in Council Meetings that the project would be done by this summer one way or another. If the Feds could not figure it out, the city wold step in. What is the plan, please?

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