(Aug. 24, 2018) Ocean City Council held readings for the following items during its meeting on Monday.

FY18 Budget Amendment

The council adopted a fiscal year 2018 budget amendment on second reading that increased the overall budget by more than $5.96 million.

Budget Manager Jennie Knapp reviewed details of the budget amendment ordinance at its first reading at the council Aug. 6 work session.

The budget amendment also increases the general fund by $1.2 million, an amount that includes more than $798,000 in grants, $200,000 for the Boardwalk Access Control project and more than $105,000 in donations and reimbursements.

The bulk of the budget increase is from a nearly $5 million state grant for the Transportation Department to upgrade its 65th Street campus.

Included in the updated figures is more than $870,000 in recent grants and donations.

During first reading on April 6, Knapp said grant funds must be included in the ordinance to authorize the expenditure of the monies. She also said budget alterations do not require additional funding from property taxes, which remain unaltered.

Revised general fund revenue estimates resulted in $120,000 reduction in appropriated fund balance.

Boardwalk Access Project 

The council adopted a resolution to authorize reimbursement of $250,000 for the final design of permanent vehicle barricades on the Boardwalk.

During a work session last Tuesday the council received updated price estimates of just under $3 million for the second phase of the Boardwalk Access Control Project.

City Engineer Terry McGean said during last week’s work session that a council resolution is required to permit it to reimburse the budget’s fund balance for the project.

Although resolutions are usually written for a project’s total cost estimate, after Councilman John Gehrig raised concerns about influencing the bidding process, McGean said only a fraction of the final funding would be required to proceed to the project design bid stage.

“If you’re more comfortable with two resolutions, with the first capped at $250,000, and I can come back with bids,” he said.

The council voted unanimously last week to spend $250,000 from fund balance, and will authorize final costs after reviewing bids.

Aircraft landings

An ordinance to regulate aircraft landings within city limits was passed on first reading and will be considered for adoption on second reading at the council meeting on Sept. 4.

The issue arose after an unannounced helicopter landing in July on 17th Street caught resort officials by surprise.

After discussing the incident during a work session on July 10, the mayor and council directed staff to research potential regulations for consideration.

Teaming up on the effort were City Manager Doug Miller, Ocean City Airport Manager Jaime Giandomenico, City Solicitor Guy Ayres, Legal Counsel Heather Stansbury, Zoning Administrator Frank Hall, Planning and Community Development Director Bill Neville, Emergency Services Director Joe Theobald and Emergency Management Planner Bob Rhode. 

An ordinance to amend Chapter 58 of the city code was introduced in draft form on July 31 and further refined during a council work session last Tuesday. 

In addition to a establishing a $1,000 fine for landing or launching an aircraft within city limits, the code amendment would subject pilots in violation to a formal complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration.

The ordinance language defines aircraft as any device capable of carrying one or more persons through the air, to include, besides airplanes, helicopters, gliders, balloons, light aircraft or parachutes.

The rules would permit exceptions in emergency situations and locations authorized by council or special event permits.

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