printed 02/14/2020

Like any other squabbling couple, the governments of Worcester County and Ocean City should go to counseling.

As is the case with many other partners quarreling about money, neither side is blameless, and, as for those assertions that the issue is about fairness, that’s just wrapping paper applied for purposes of appearance.

Nothing demonstrates this divide better than this week’s clash between the mayor and City Council and the county’s economic development-recreation-tourism department super chief Tom Perlozzo, who requested $25,000 to help stage an obstacle course race a mile-and-a-half out of town.

Employing the “what-do-we-get-out-of-it?” rationale, the council agreed to help only if the event is moved in town on the beach. That’s understandable from the perspective of the mayor and council, who continue to chafe at resort government’s subsidization of the county’s obligation to provide fire and emergency medical services for West Ocean City.

City Hall also has a long-standing beef with the county about getting so little return on the millions upon millions of dollars resort taxpayers contribute to the county’s treasury.

From the county’s point of view, however, Ocean City pays more because it has more. The county commissioners also answer to a larger constituency beyond Ocean City, with much of it situated in less economically fortunate areas, where voters resent what they see as Ocean City’s selfishness.

Just as Ocean City asks why its taxpayers should bear so much of the county’s fiscal burden without getting much back, the county’s other tax jurisdictions wonder why they should contribute more to benefit a district that has twice as much as they do combined.

Perlozzo, unfortunately, has to navigate these angry waters. Too much focus on Ocean City could cost him support at the county level. If, on the other hand, he helps to build mainland commerce along the coast, thus reducing the county’s dependence on Ocean City, the resort could see that as an effort to siphon off some of its business.

He can’t win, but neither will the county or Ocean City if he doesn’t. Clearly, some marriage counseling is in order.

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