(Nov. 23, 2018) Ocean City closed fiscal year 2018 on solid financial footing, with detailed numbers provided to the City Council during a comprehensive annual financial report presentation on Monday.
Finance Director Chuck Bireley said the town’s financial net position increased by more than $12.5 million during FY18.
“It was a very good year for the town of Ocean City,” he said.
Bireley said when FY18 closed on June 30 Ocean City totaled more than $343 million in assets, against more than $192 million in liabilities.
“This left us with a net position of $151,004,893 and that is a very solid balance sheet position for the town,” he said.
Bireley said revenue and expense figures also weighed favorably during FY18, with revenue up $1.2 million over budget projections and expenses running more than $2 million under budget.
“We ended up with a favorable variance of $3.4 million for the year,” he said.
Reviewing revenue sources, Bireley said real property taxes account for the largest funding stream.
“The town of Ocean City collects $40.9 million a year in real property taxes, which is almost one half of the general fund revenue,” he said.
Of that number, the resort retains the balance after sending Worcester County 59 percent and giving the state 8 percent, Bireley said.
“One third of property tax bills go to the town,” he said.
Switching to expenditures, Bireley said public safety accounted for $36.8 million, or 46 percent of municipal outlays.
“It is by far the leader in terms of expenditures for the town,” he said.
Tourism accounts for the next highest expenditure at about $9.4 million, Bireley said.
“You’re talking about four times as much spent on public safety as tourism,” he said.
Councilman John Gehrig noted that tourism spending is financed through collected room taxes.
“It’s funded through the room tax, which goes into the general fund and then leaves into the tourism and marketing budget,” he said.
Gehrig said property tax revenue is not earmarked to attract seasonal visitors.
“Zero, or next to zero, of that 33 percent goes to tourism,” he said. “Tourism is being funded by room tax, which is paid for by visitors to town.”
Roughly 55 percent of room tax funds are spent on tourist related costs, with the remaining money dedicated for advertising, Gehrig said.
The town’s unassigned fund balance remained virtually unchanged during FY18, with the $20.38 million total nearly matching the $20.31 FY17 total, Bireley said.
Also ending FY18 in solid fiscal shape were proprietary, or business funds, Bireley said.
“The net increase in fund balance for the proprietary funds was $9,928,000 for FY18,” he said.
Pension funding ratios for FY18 were 84.3 percent for general employees and 79.3 percent for public safety employees, with total plan assets of about $117 million, Bireley said.
“We had an unfunded liability of $26 million, which is being funded over a 10-year period,” he said. “The investment rate of return in FY18 on the pension plans was 8.7 percent.”
The Comprehensive Annual Financial Report is available online at: https://oceancitymd.gov/pdf/CAFR18.pdf.