2015: We’ll wait and see how it is

01/02/2015

The new year will have its fair share of wait-and-see situations, as state and local officials wrestle with unfinished financial and operational business.

When new governor Larry Hogan takes office later this month, he will be greeted by a grim fiscal picture that has  been ignored for the past 10 years.

Although Maryland government did post a major budget surplus 10 years ago, it was almost entirely due to the unsustainable spike in real property values. We all know what happened next. Now Hogan gets his opportunity to address the problem and chances are it’s going to be painful.

Should state spending reductions come at the expense of public education, the good news/bad news is that it won’t affect Worcester County as much as other jurisdictions. Because of Maryland’s ridiculous education funding formula, Worcester receives so little financial help from the state that getting less of not very much won’t hurt as much here as it will elsewhere.

This is not to say that the Worcester County Commissioners will have an easy time of it come budget season, because they never do, but it won’t help Ocean City’s plea for the return of more of its revenues from the county.

Despite major changes in the composition of the board of commissioners, it does not appear likely that the county will be any more sympathetic toward Ocean City government than it has been.

That’s not good for the city,which is going into contract talks with the Fraternal Order of Police, whose members expect a significant pay raise after holding off during the recession and supporting a number of elected officials during the past two elections.

Add to that another study of how the city’s pay schedule stacks up against that of other municipal governments – it’s never good news – and council members will have some serious thinking to do.

The private sector, meanwhile, took its lumps head-on and is enjoying a healthy turnaround that looks to keep building in the year ahead. Of course, we will have to wait and see, but for those enterprises that, unlike state government, could not kick the can down the road, 2015 is looking pretty good.

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