money

The Ocean City Council held a first reading this week for a budget amendment to reconcile revenue and expense variations to close out fiscal year 2019.

Total financial package for resort government would close out at $141 million

(March 8, 2019) Resort government moved closer to closing the ledgers on its current operating budget this week, with the first reading of a budget amendment that reconciles revenue and expense changes since last July and boosts the bottom line more than $11 million.

The fiscal 2019 budget, which became effective at the beginning of last July, was originally adopted last May for roughly $129.9 million but would close at more than $141 million pending approval of the amendment.

Budget Manager Jennie Knapp said although the fiscal 2019 budget amendment increases the general fund more than $2 million, the adjustment would not require additional funding from property taxes to balance the books.

During the City Council meeting on Monday, Knapp also noted the budget amendment maintains fiscal 2019 tax rates at .4656 per $100 of assessed value of real property and $1.29 per $100 of assessed value of corporate and personal property.

Knapp said the general fund, which includes property tax revenue and covers the cost of most city departments, including police, fire, public works and recreation, was originally adopted at more than $85 million and has increased by roughly $2.4 million since July for a current total of about $87.5 million.

General fund revenue increases include: $398,000 grant funding for street paving, $130,000 funding for critical areas and storm water management, $250,000 in parking fines, $191,000 revenue from other agencies and $42,000 in donations.

Revenue increases to the general fund also included more than $1.8 million derived from prior year reserves, including; more than $643,000 forward funding for grant eligible projects at the Ocean City Municipal Airport, more than $563,000 for the Second Street Public Works facility, roughly $282,000 for prior year purchase orders, $190,000 to purchase property at 12327 Sinepuxent Road, $100,000 contribution to Atlantic General Hospital and $50,000 for revenue shortfalls at Eagle’s Landing Golf Course.

General fund revenues from service charges were decreased by roughly $413,000 as compared to initial estimates for inlet parking profits and beach photo franchise fees.

Knapp said the fiscal 2019 budget amendment includes roughly an additional $1,888,000 pulled from general fund prior year reserves, or fund balance, which more than doubles the $1.6 million from original adoption for a final total of more than $3.4 million.

The unassigned general fund balance to close fiscal year 2018 was roughly $20.3 million, with about $12.3 million required to match the 15 percent reserve policy. Since the fiscal 2019 budget was enacted in July, Knapp said about $1.6 million of the roughly $8 million available for appropriations has been expended, leaving the unreserved fund balance at about $6.4 million currently.

General fund expense increases included: more than $315,000 for public safety, roughly $229,000 for tourism related economic development, more than $60,000 for public works and beach maintenance and about $36,000 for general government.

The budget amendment also recognizes more than $381,000 in savings from health insurance that was earmarked to boost pension funding and compensate lost revenues from beach photo franchise fees.

Knapp said higher than estimated parking fine revenues were used to offset lower than estimated parking fees.

Water fund reserve balances of more than $1.2 million were used to purchase property on 67th Street.

Knapp said additional casino revenue totaling $56,000 over fiscal 2018 budgeted amounts would be used for street paving, which raises the total street paving funded in the fiscal 2019 budget to more than $2.6 million.

The fiscal 2019 budget amendment will head for second reading and potential passage during the City Council meeting on March 18, while the fiscal 2020 budget discussions will begin in April.

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