(Feb. 21, 2014) The first formal amendment to the Town of Ocean City’s 2013-2014 fiscal year budget appropriates nearly $3.5 million in unanticipated revenue toward a number of initiatives taken on by the city since the end of the 2012-2013 fiscal cycle.
Grants from outside agencies made up a significant portion of the financing, with nearly $1.3 million being realized. These include state tourism grants of $450,000, $290,000 in additional county grants, and $383,000 in grant funding for the Ocean City Fire Department’s replacement of Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus.
Most of these grants are restricted to specific uses, and must be spent on the projects for which they were authorized.
However, the city is also pulling over $2.1 million in unrestricted monies from the town’s operating reserve – known as “fund balance” – which closed out the 2012-13 year well above the town’s self-imposed minimum of 15 percent of annual expenses.
City council voted in October to appropriate unrestricted funds funds to a number of initiatives, including a half-million dollars for canal dredging, as well as an additional $383,000 for street repairs, bringing the 2013-14 street maintenance budget up to the preferred $2 million per year.
That level of funding was determined in 2007 to be the minimum needed for the town to ‘catch up’ on replacing its aging road infrastructure.
The city also appropriated an additional $315,000 of fund balance to replace an ambulance and an industrial sweeper for the Boardwalk.
Much of the un-budgeted excess of fund balance came from 2012-2013 room tax income, which was up roughly $350,000 from the year before and over $900,000 more than what the city had budgeted.
The current amendment of the 2013-14 budget also realizes an excess of $120,000 in room tax so far this fiscal year.
To date, room tax is up $400,000 over the same span last fiscal year. However, the city increased this year’s estimated income for room tax by $1 million, meaning the town will likely realize less of a windfall in actual revenue versus predicted.