This is the letter from FIT that was sent out to all FIT members.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”- Margaret Mead
Ocean City Fairness in Taxes (FIT) has been your fiscal watchdog since 1988. Besides regularly attending city council and school board meetings, FIT does a tremendous amount of research on major issues impacting the city. Since last Fall, FIT has developed a very good working relationship with the City government and City Council. They invite the FIT President and Vice President to meetings, they ask for our inputs, and they even call us when they have made mistakes. Here are the major initiatives being pursued by Fairness in Taxes:
- Klause Property Purchase (old Perry Egan car dealership)
Last fall, the city adopted a $9,000,000 bond ordinance to acquire the old car dealership property at 16th Street but Mayor Gillian had no plan for the property. Admittedly, Mayor Gillian did not negotiate the price and simply took the Klause’s inflated offer of $9,000,000. FIT was successful in securing the required signatures on a petition to let the voters decide whether to purchase the property for $9,000,000. The City immediately withdrew the $9,000,000 bond ordinance. The Mayor recently announced that the City is again interested in purchasing the Klause property and directed new appraisals. As we said previously, FIT would like the City to purchase the property for a price that is substantiated by credible appraisals and FIT needs to see a plan for the property.
- Ocean City Housing Authority
As part of an affordable housing settlement, the City obligated the taxpayers of Ocean City with rehabilitating the mismanaged Ocean City Housing Authority that could cost upwards of 20 million dollars. Unable to pay its bills, the Housing Authority would be bankrupt and would not exist if not for the generosity of the Ocean City taxpayer. Recently, FIT discovered through numerous Open Public Records Act (OPRA) requests with the city, Housing Authority, and state, that the Ocean City Housing Authority has not received a 4.5 million dollar grant, even though they publicly stated otherwise. The Housing Authority still needs to apply for the grant and have it approved by the state. Also, through the efforts of FIT, it was discovered that Mayor Gillian rejected two proposals of private housing developers that would have built and managed the affordable housing project at no cost to the taxpayer. Ocean City taxpayers will have to pay upwards of 20 million dollars because Mayor Gillian wanted a “home town feel” to the public housing project. FIT recognizes the requirement to provide public housing and the need to renovate the existing public housing in Ocean City. However, it is wrong for taxpayers to bear a major part of the costs for public housing simply because of the missteps of the City government.
- Residential on the Boardwalk
If you ask tourists and residents what they like most about Ocean City, many will say the Boardwalk. The shops and rides are part of what keep people coming back. Unfortunately, FIT discovered that Mayor Gillian wants to change all that. He wants to allow residential development on the boardwalk despite an existing ordinance to the contrary. The boardwalk is the last zone on the island that has not been impacted by out of control residential development and the Mayor’s plan will only increase traffic and parking headaches in an already congested area. Mayor Gillian’s supposed rationale for residential on the boardwalk is to increase housing opportunities in Ocean City. However, many view this as simply greedy developers looking for opportunities while adversely impacting the family-friendly boardwalk. FIT’s fear is that shops, amusement parks, and restaurants will be closed and replaced by more profitable residential development. It will be the end of our Ocean City boardwalk as we and tourists know and love it. FIT intends to vigorously oppose any plans for residential development on the boardwalk.
- BYOB Dining Clubs in Ocean City
Ocean City voters defeated a BYOB referendum in 2012, yet “BYOB Dining Clubs” are cropping up in alarmingly greater numbers. These “clubs”, under the approval of City government, are going far beyond BYOB and are allowing consumption of hard liquor any hour of the day. We have been advised that this activity being condoned by the City government is illegal. We are continuing to research this issue and are reaching out to other concerned organizations in an effort to assure that the result of the 2012 referendum is enforced.
- Other FIT Initiatives
As always, FIT monitors all aspects of government spending including Flooding, School Expenditures, and Environmental issues.
Fairness in Taxes will no longer be mailing newsletters. Since we have a new website (www.fairnessintaxes.com), this not only saves a significant amount of money, but has all the latest FIT news, media coverage, articles, and, with a click of a button, you can pay your membership dues and Legal Defense Fund contributions.
Help us continue to fight for taxpayers by paying for a $20.00 annual membership, payable online at www.fairnessintaxes.com. You can also mail checks payable to: Ocean City Fairness in Taxes, P.O. Box 565, Ocean City, NJ 08226 (See attached application form)
Please also consider a separate contribution to the Ocean City Fairness in Taxes Legal Fund. To pay online, visit us on the web at www.fairnessintaxes.com. You can also mail checks payable to: Ocean City FIT Legal Fund, P.O. Box 565, Ocean City, NJ 08226 (See attached form)
Thank you for your continued help and support!
President, Fairness in Taxes