I would like to comment on the editorial in May 8 Sentinel, entitled “You get what you fight for- Citizens fought lot purchase, get more housing instead.”
As the President of Fairness in Taxes, I led the referendum drive to stop the purchase of the Klause property because it was a bad deal for OC taxpayers. Fairness in Taxes always recognized the unique nature of this large plot of centrally-located land and felt that it would be a tremendous asset to the City, but that the $9 million price tag was too high.
The price the City wanted to pay for the property was based on very questionable appraisals. Instead of working to get the price as low as possible, the City insisted throughout the process that “the price was the price” and they refused to negotiate at all. Fairness in Taxes even found evidence that the City had agreed on a price several months before they announced an interest to buy the property.
Last Fall, after the petition drive met its goal and the City announced that it would not be purchasing the Klause property, I told City council that I did not believe the successful referendum was a victory for Fairness in Taxes, but rather a victory for Ocean City Taxpayers and for the democratic process. My wife and I have been involved in fighting similar issues in the past and found that when an issue resonates with the public, it will succeed. If it does not resonate with the public, it will die a quick death. In this case, The City was caught time after time misrepresenting the facts and that incensed the public. The City’s lack of transparency resonated with the voting public and, more than anything else, that’s what convinced over 15% of the Ocean City voters to support Fairness in Taxes’s referendum.
In the Mayor’s most recent update, he shared that the City was once again negotiating “in good faith” to purchase the Klause property. Fairness in Taxes applauds the Mayor’s decision to purchase this property! As a community, we want and need it! We also hope that, unlike what has happened in the past, the Mayor will truly negotiate “in good faith” and bring the taxpayers a deal that we can all live with. If he does not, he knows only too well that Fairness in Taxes will do what is right for Ocean City citizens.
President, Fairness in Taxes