You can’t blame a guy for trying. At least that’s how Berlin Mayor Zack Tyndall might feel after attempting to unite the county’s towns and Ocean Pines in asking the county commissioners for more money for the fiscal year ahead.
Tyndall’s strategy was to convince the other jurisdictions to make a unified pitch for $500,000 each in unrestricted grants during their budget talks with the county later this month. That, he evidently surmised, would put slightly more pressure on the commissioners to do better by the towns with their annual grants considering how much more money the county would be receiving.
Tyndall’s pitch, however, didn’t work out, as the other districts apparently prefer to make their own arguments to the county for more money in the year ahead. If that is the case, they might consider taking another look at Tyndall’s position and then doing the math.
The one problem with Tyndall’s plan is that he didn’t ask for enough. As he pointed out, Berlin received an unrestricted grant of $400,000 in 2013 and $465,000 last year. That’s an increase of 16.25% over 10 years. Meanwhile, the county’s total revenue over the same period shot up 37%, from about $166 million to $227 million. By that measure, Berlin should be due $548,000 in unrestricted grant money, were it to keep pace with the county’s revenue growth.
Although the towns get much more money from the county for other purposes, these unrestricted grants — money that can be spent on anything — have been running light.
While there is no way of knowing at this time what the commissioners will do with the tax rate for the upcoming fiscal year, or how it will treat Ocean City taxpayers whose properties were the only ones to be reassessed for this cycle, all the other districts in line for grants — Ocean City, Snow Hill, Ocean Pines and Pocomoke City — should join Berlin in going after their fair share, whatever that number turns out to be.