When you read the local papers over the last several weeks, one might believe that the Town of Ocean City is facing a financial crisis going into Fiscal Year (FY) 2020.
City Council members have publicly stated the budget shortfall is between $500,000 and $800,000.
In an article in the Dispatch (3/15/19), about the recent effort to raise the room tax a half a cent, the town budget manager is quoted as saying “In the rough draft of the general fund budget, we’re starting at $525,000 in the hole.”
In that same issue of the Dispatch, the parking consultant working with the parking task force is quoted as saying “One of the parking problems is you’re not making enough money. It’s a revenue issue.….From the council’s perspective, this is about revenue.”
We are led to believe that we are facing a serious financial dilemma as we approach FY20, and that if more revenue is not generated, there could be an increase in the property tax rate.
However, in an article in OC Today (11/23/18) regarding a summary of the 2018 fiscal year, we read that revenue was up $1.2 million over budget projections, while expenses were more that $2 million under budget. The town finance director is quoted as saying “We ended up with a favorable variance of $3.4 million for the year.”
On March 4, 2019, the budget manager writes to the Mayor & City Council (M&CC) regarding FY19 Budget Amendment #1, that the amount in fund balance is over $6.4 million above the town’s 15 percent reserve policy. This is unassigned reserve money.
What am I missing here? Why is the M&CC pushing the narrative that we are in such a dire financial situation heading into FY20? Perhaps, the real question is what is being kept from tax paying public?
Vincent dePaul Gisriel, Jr.