Zach Tyndall made a call to his fellow municipal leaders for a unified front, but several have said they have different priorities, and likely will not be joining to request grants from the county this year.
Town commitment seems unlikely due to different needs
By Charlene Sharpe, Associate Editor
Berlin Mayor Zack Tyndall asked his peers throughout the county to consider a unified funding request as local municipalities prepare to seek grants from Worcester County.
Tyndall last week approached the mayors of Snow Hill, Pocomoke and Ocean City, as well as the president of the Ocean Pines Association to ask them to consider a unified funding request to the commissioners for the coming year. The towns typically submit annual grant requests to Worcester County each February.
“I think it says a lot more if we come at it together,” Tyndall said in an interview this week.
On Jan. 31, Tyndall emailed the other mayors and the Ocean Pines Association. His email pointed out that the Worcester County Commissioners had flat funded the municipalities in Fiscal Year 2024 but that there had recently been an increase in property assessments. He suggested the municipalities consider a unified funding request of $500,000 each.
“It’s not uncommon to reach out to colleagues in Worcester County and even across the state,” Tyndall said.
He said the Town of Berlin received an unrestricted grant of $400,000 from the county in fiscal 2013. From fiscal 2014-2017, the town received an unrestricted grant of $450,000. In fiscal 2018, it received $455,000, and in fiscal 2019, the county provided the town with $465,000. The grant hasn’t changed since.
“We’re down to one K-9 unit,” he said. “We’ll be looking to onboard another. We’ve got three cadets in the academy. We’ve got increased costs across the board.”
He’s hopeful that the commissioners will increase the grant this year, especially since the county’s property tax revenues are up. In Worcester County, Group 3 residential values increased from $7,837,587,900 in 2021 to $11,576,277,100 in 2024, a 47.7% increase. Commercial values jumped from $926,276,300 in 2021 to $1,227,132,100, a 32.5% increase.
Tyndall said if the county provided the town with an unrestricted grant of $500,000, that would be a 7.5% increase over what the town received last year.
Snow Hill Mayor Mike Pruitt said he’d received Tyndall’s email but that he hadn’t yet met with the town’s department heads regarding funding needs for the coming year and couldn’t say whether the town would be cooperating with Berlin as far as a unified request.
When asked about Tyndall’s request, Ocean Pines officials indicated they’d be working with the county.
“As in prior years, Ocean Pines will continue to work with Worcester County on our annual budget request,” General Manager John Viola said.
Pocomoke City Mayor Todd Nock acknowledged Tyndall’s request but said he felt the towns each had different needs.
“I hold the belief that Pocomoke, Snow Hill, Berlin, Ocean Pine, and Ocean City each possess distinct priorities,” Nock said. “Although I advocate for collaborative efforts to enhance Worcester as a whole, I do not deem this particular endeavor as the appropriate means to achieve unity. While I am eager to align my vision with fellow mayors, I am not inclined to prioritize monetary aspects at this stage.”