Local critical of government making financial decisions through private meetings
(Jan. 10, 2020) Local government critic Tony Christ started his New Year before the Ocean City mayor and council by grilling them for making important financial decisions behind closed doors.
“What benefit did the public get from all of these closed session decisions?” Christ demanded.
He addressed multiple city leaders directly, and demanded to know how they had come to make multiple financial decisions, primarily involving the 25-year franchise extension the city granted Synepuxent Pier and Improvement Co. on the Boardwalk pier.
“I was a little disturbed when I reviewed the Synepuxent deal that you all agreed to in closed session over 14 months, and I have some questions in regards to that,” Christ said.
His targets were Council members John Gehrig, Dennis Dare, Mary Knight and Mayor Rick Meehan.
“Mr. Gehrig, if you want to establish value of something in business, how would you go about it? Would you review the leases? Would you look at the incomes? Can you be very specific and tell us how you went about establishing value with the Synepuxent deal?
“Miss Knight, can you please tell the voters how the public benefitted from the 14 months of closed sessions in the Synepuxent deal, from the closed sessions in the 67th Street Gym deal and the closed sessions for Sandpiper, because the leases … all seem incongruent to values.
“Mayor, if you could explain to the public how the lease on the gym generated $110,000 on an assessed value of $1.3 million, yet the lease on Synepuxent, with an assessed value of $9.4 million, and in my opinion the most valuable piece of property in all of Ocean City … generated less lease revenue? How do you excuse the fee for the 17 parking spaces … which if you calculate them on the new fee come to $71,000 a year.”
To Dare, he questioned how the city differentiates between a franchise and a business license, as well as ownership of the pier land parcel.
Christ received silence from Meehan and company.