After experiencing rising advertising costs from a regional publication, the Worcester County Commissioners on Tuesday agreed to begin posting all public notices online and in locally circulated papers only to keep readers informed.
The commissioners approved removing language from the county’s code requiring public notices to be published in a legally recognized paper of general circulation, which they have interpreted to mean in this case to mean the Daily Times in Salisbury.
Commissioner Chip Bertino moved to approve the changes to the county code if the requirement to advertise in newspapers remains, even if that meant continuing to advertise in local publications like the Maryland Coast Dispatch and Ocean City Today/Ocean City Digest.
Bertino asked County Attorney Roscoe Leslie if the motion would save the county any money and was told money would be saved.
Commissioner Josh Nordstrom then said he wanted to see the newspaper language removed from the code and only require public notices to go up on the website, which Leslie said would be completely legal.
Bertino, though, said there was still a portion of the population who are not internet savvy and who rely on newspapers for information.
“I think we have a responsibility to our taxpayers,” Bertino said.
Nordstrom said he wanted to be able to inform as many people as possible, noting the reason this issue was introduced was because the ad fees from the Daily Times went up.
The county also has an advertising contract with Ocean City Today/Ocean City Digest. That was agreed upon in by county officials on the premise that Ocean City Today/Ocean City Digest would satisfy the legal and public interest requirements in the north end of the county and that the Daily Times/Worcester County Times would cover southern Worcester.
“Really, the sky’s the limit on how much they (the Daily Times) can charge,” Nordstrom said.
Leslie told the commissioners the term, “general circulation,” could be defined however they want.
When it came to a vote, the commissioners approved the changes 6-1 with Nordstrom opposed.