Boardwalk Reconstruction Contract, Municipal Budget Top Council’s Agenda

first_imgBy Donald WittkowskiCity Council is expected Thursday to award a nearly $3 million contract for the final phase of a multiyear reconstruction of the heart of Ocean City’s tourist-friendly Boardwalk.In another key vote at its 7 p.m. meeting, Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing and give final approval to the city’s proposed $79.7 million operating budget for 2017.Overall, the spending plan is up about 5 percent compared to last year, largely due to an increase in debt payments for new construction projects and higher health insurance costs, according to Frank Donato, the city’s chief financial officer.Barring major last-minute changes in the budget by Council, the tax rate will increase by nearly 3 cents, adding an extra $143 in local taxes per year to a home assessed at $500,000. The figure does not include county and school taxes, which are assessed separately.Ocean City has the ability to tap different sources of revenue – in addition to local property taxes – to finance the operating budget. Beach tag sales and parking operations are two of the biggest revenue generators. The budget forecasts $4.1 million in beach tag sales and $3 million in parking revenue for 2017.Donato, during a budget presentation to Council in March, said higher taxes will help pay for $33 million worth of new construction projects this year in Mayor Jay Gillian’s proposed capital plan.The city is preparing to award a $2.9 million construction contract for the final phase of the Boardwalk’s multiyear facelift.The city’s growing tax base will help underwrite the capital costs. In a key metric of Ocean City’s economic strength, the ratable base has increased by about $120 million compared to 2016 and now totals nearly $11.6 billion, Donato said. The ratable base is the combined value of all taxable real estate.In the budget, the mayor has placed a heavy emphasis on road construction, drainage upgrades, dredging projects and the Boardwalk’s ongoing rehabilitation among a series of capital improvements to help overhaul the city’s aging infrastructure.The Boardwalk, Ocean City’s most heavily visited attraction, has only two more blocks to go in its multiyear reconstruction between Fifth and 12th streets. This section of the Boardwalk includes the main part of the commercial district, including shops, restaurants and popular amusement parks. The final phase of Boardwalk reconstruction, between 10th and 12th streets, is scheduled to be completed this fall and winter. Council is expected Thursday to award a $2.9 million contract for the work to Fred M. Schiavone Construction Inc. of Malaga, Inc., the low bidder. Schiavone was the contractor for three earlier phases of the Boardwalk’s makeover.Work includes replacing aging sections of the Boardwalk’s deck with new wood and building a new concrete substructure. New ramps that meet the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements are planned from the Boardwalk to the beach at 10th, 11th and 12th streets. A public hearing and final vote are set for the 2017 municipal budget at City Council’s meeting 7 p.m. Thursday.last_img

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