Terry McGean

Terry McGean

(April 30, 2021) Ocean City Council members approved measures to create a new fund for capital improvements that ensures money is available for projects each year.

City Finance Director Chuck Bireley and Budget Manager Jennie Knapp presented the new policy to the council during a work session on Tuesday afternoon, reminding everyone that the establishment of the fund had been discussed on April 8.

City Engineer Terry McGean, in early April, asked the board to create the fund for capital improvements, opening it with $3 million.

Each following year, the city will contribute $1.5 million into the account, which can be used for emergency repairs with City Council approval.

Any additional amount would roll over to the following year. The main stipulation with the account is that it maintain a minimum balance of $1 million.

Bireley told the council Tuesday that the Maryland Government Finance Officers Association – or GFOA – considers this type of fund to be a best practice.

“It is a positive for the town,” he said, adding that it looks favorable.

This year, council agreed to spend $1.5 million on seven capital improvements around Ocean City.

The projects are $500,000 on street paving, $450,000 to replace the Chicago Avenue bulkhead; $110,000 to replace the public safety building power supply; $170,000 to repair the fire headquarters elevator; $100,000 to clean the storm drains; $80,000 to replace the deck at Sunset Park; and $150,000 to replace the west gym floor at Northside Park.

In addition to the $1.5 million, Councilman Tony DeLuca asked that the canal dredging continue to take place, and the council agreed to revisit the matter and earmark $400,000 for the project if it is deemed feasible.

Councilman John Gehrig asked to have the minimum amount in the account changed to $1.5 million instead of $1 million to ensure the money is available for any new capital improvements the city wants to move forward.

While the minimum could have been bumped up, Knapp said this fund is being set up for maintenance projects such as street paving and bulkheads that could exceed $100,000.

She added that if the amount were to drop below $1 million one year, the following year the money moved would be increased from $1.5 million plus whatever the difference was below $1 million.

The board voted 6-0 in favor of establishing the new account, with Councilman Lloyd Martin absent.

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