April 29, 2016
I’m pleased to announce that City Council unanimously approved a 2016 operating budget on Thursday that maintains all of Ocean City’s superior services, invests in a wide array of improvements to every part of the city, and comes with only a small tax increase. I’d like to thank council for their fiscal responsibility and their continued cooperation in a budget process free of games or gimmicks.
Despite contractual increases of 1.25 percent across the board, salaries and wages under the proposed budget are $172,000 less than last year, and operating expenses are mostly flat.
We have new four-year contracts with all eight labor unions representing city employees, and the average annual salary increases are at about 1.3 percent – a figure fair to both the city team and taxpayers.
These cost savings are allowing us to continue an aggressive capital improvement program to overhaul roads and drainage systems, replace the boardwalk, rebuild beaches and dunes, dredge the bay and complete countless other long-neglected projects throughout the city.
An Army Corps of Engineers contractor is back in the south end of Ocean City, replacing sand that was lost during recent storms. Vehicle access to Corson’s Inlet State Park from the crossover at the end of Central Avenue may be closed for a couple of days as early as this weekend. Signs will be posted regarding the closure.
One of many projects ongoing is the Ocean City Welcome Center on the Route 52 causeway. The State Department of Transportation constructed the building for Ocean City. Although an excellent facility, it was lacking some essential features. This project is bringing the facility up to standard with interior stairs, improved access for individuals with disabilities and improved usable space for the thousands of guests that frequent the bridge and its many amenities. City and Chamber of Commerce team members staff the building daily and provide a number of key guest services, ranging from providing general information to the sale of beach tags and tickets for city events.
The city continues to invest in infrastructure as crews are working hard to finish drainage and paving projects. We are also grateful that our utility partners continue to reinvest and upgrade their infrastructure in Ocean City. Please be patient as these projects come to a close. These jobs are all weather dependent, and we hope to have them completed as soon as possible.
Bob Marzulli with the Ocean City American Legion has informed me that work on their new building at 46th street continues. They recently completed the ramps and steps with volunteer labor and are working toward the addition of solar panels so the facility can be energy efficient. I ask that if you have not already helped the American Legion with their building fund that you consider doing so now as they are pushing to complete their new home. We cannot thank our local American Legion and VFW enough for all that they do for local veterans and servicemen and women in Ocean City and abroad. The city team and I will support their programs and projects in every way we can as we have done since I became Mayor.
The County notified us that starting Monday, May 2, the Garden State Parkway will be milled and paved from Mile Post 8 to Mile Post 12. This work will be performed during daylight hours and on weekdays. Only one lane of traffic will be available in the direction where the milling and paving is taking place. The contractor is estimating five working days for each direction of travel of the Parkway, but the work is weather dependent. Please plan extra time into your travels as delays are expected.
Lastly, I will continue to remind everyone that I am committed to building a new fire house at 29th Street. City team members, including members of the fire department, are working cooperatively on plans to ensure that public safety and our response to the community are not compromised in any way during the transition, while developing building plans responsible to the taxpayer. We have been granted a 30 day extension to stay at the facility at 29th Street and are seeking temporary repairs to the building in order to keep the firefighters at that location through summer.
I will keep you informed on the progress of these and other projects as updates become available. I hope everyone has a great weekend.