Assembly to consider quality county funding
Posted On: 1/30/14
County residents who love Worcester County’s environmental beauty such in its waterways, green spaces and parks, should be encouraged by state budget allocations coming out of the General Assembly. Worcester should receive over $300,000 from Program Open Space that will be used for land acquisition or infrastructure of existing local parks. Other expenditures include funding for Assateague State Park dune maintenance and shower building renovations. Pocomoke River State Park is also on the list to receive funds to renovate its Algonquin and Manokin Pavilions as well as for improvements to marina services. When this is combined with the $19.5 million for Worcester County’s 6,240 public school students, it makes for an impressive and of course helpful way to give this County its due. Sometimes state citizens and even their state representatives focus so much of the 90-day General Assembly session on issues having a greater impact on the densely populated Baltimore metro...» Click here for the full story.
Taking the ‘Happy’ out of New Year for 1.3 million
Posted On: 1/2/14
There are over 1.3 million Americans, including 23,000 Marylanders who will be missing the “Happy” and perhaps dreading the New Year. Congress is in recess, and it didn’t take any action in extending long term-unemployment benefits prior to its holiday break. Those benefits expired this past Saturday, Dec. 28., just three days after Christmas and less than five days before the new year. All reports say that a bill to extend this Emergency Unemployment Compensation program will be a top priority when Congress returns to session January 6. Our congressman Rep. Andy Harris is in opposition of the extension, saying it “would cost an additional $26 billion, something our nation just cannot afford.” Mr. Harris hasn’t looked at the numbers in his own district where unemployment rates reached nearly 10 percent in Worcester and Somerset Counties and nearly 8 percent in Wicomico County. This isn’t the time to be playing politics with peoples’ ...» Click here for the full story.
Best of times ahead
Posted On: 12/24/13
Aside from being one of the best writers in the history of the written word, Charles Dickens gave us such grand opening lines in his “Tale of Two Cities” that they have been employed in other writing to the point of ridiculousness. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness …” Virtually every writer and critic on the planet knows it’s cliché to use these words, yet there they are time and again, and it’s because they are so easily applied to describe a period’s ups and downs, its successes and failures, as well as its good, its bad and its preposterous. Pick a year, any year, and we can find examples of all these things with virtually no effort. And that is why for the past 4,000 years or so, humanity has looked at the new year as a clean slate and another chance to get it right. Historians say the ancient Babylonians were the first to come up with an annual calen...» Click here for the full story.
Council faces much work with redistricting ahead
Posted On: 12/19/13
Berlin’s Board of Election Supervisors and the mayor and Town Council sat down for a work session on Monday evening. The focus was on Berlin’s increase in population from roughly 3,000 to almost 4,500 in the 10 years since the last federal census was taken. What looks to be more difficult than locating people in small towns for inclusion in our great national numerology is the resolution it could mean for Berlin. Heaven knows it took almost three years to get census figures for Berlin. It is the responsibility of jurisdictions to redistrict political boundaries when necessary if there are changes in numbers. Berlin has four districts, and its town organizers want to keep the districts equally divided, plus or minus 5 percent, in the 1,124-person-per-district zone. There are other issues, including a plan that will have Councilman Elroy Brittingham (D-3) and Councilman Dean Burrell (D-4) stay in their homes but switch districts. Brand new constituents? Possibly a big vot...» Click here for the full story.
Ocean Pines Association should OK conduct codes
Posted On: 12/12/13
Sometimes a proposal, a statement or even the wording of a code can hit a raw nerve. That’s what seemingly occurred at the Dec. 4 Ocean Pines Association work session when Director Terri Mohr gave colleagues background material for a motion to reinstitute an OPA code of conduct at the upcoming Dec. 18 meeting. Director Jack Collins repeatedly requested an explanation what problem could have possibly led Mohr to introduce to reinstate a code of conduct. Our question is why not have a code of conduct? Doesn’t it seem possible that many successful businesses, bureaucracies, governments and other organizations have codes of conduct and rules of ethics that act as an organization’s conscience or backbone? Also, codes of conduct should not be about going after any one official. Indeed, these codes are important for the working culture of any successful organization. We are surprised, quite frankly, that the Ocean Pines Association operates without these codes. It’...» Click here for the full story.
Yes, let’s celebrate, but remember responsibilities
Posted On: 12/5/13
While Berlin is getting ready for its Victorian Christmas and many have worked hard to prepare for a successful holiday season, there is still something that can’t be forgotten. We’re not writing here that it is being placed on the back burner in favor of the holidays. That’s not the case at all. This is simply a reminder. The fact of the matter, Tymier Dennis’s death is still to be mourned. His brother Tyheim Brown’s life is changed forever. A petition will go to the State Highway Administration advocating for change along the stretch of Route 113 running through the town. There is a time to rejoice, and the days between Thanksgiving and New Year’s seems to be a period when we take a collective hiatus on the life’s intensities, and we work hard to celebrate. But we can’t work hard to forget. When the Christmas trees are being taken down and the New Year’s confetti is being sucked up into vacuum cleaners, the problems faci...» Click here for the full story.
Sgt. Maj., Berlin officer Merle Bragg, Jr. honored
Posted On: 11/27/13
There’s always plenty on the agenda to be done at any particular Berlin Mayor and Council meeting. Sometimes, though, it’s important to stop the discussion of public policy and recognize a citizen who is nothing short of a true hero. That happened Monday night when Mayor William G. Williams III and the council recognized and honored U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Merle Bragg, Jr. Bragg, who makes his home in Hebron with his wife, Lynn, was honored not only for his many years of national service, but also because the sergeant major is a senior officer of the Berlin Police Department. He’s been a Berlin police officer since 1996. Berlin has kept his spot open knowing full well that literally at any moment he could get the call again for redeployment, be it stateside or even in Afghanistan. Since he was first called to duty after the Sept. 11, 2001 acts of terror changed the nature of national security, the Berlin police officer has been home for only 13 months. He has seen ...» Click here for the full story.
Dumping personal property tax good start
Posted On: 10/24/13
The political season is certainly under way, as was evidenced Tuesday by the gathering of candidates for the General Assembly in Ocean Pines, where the consensus among these hopefuls is that Maryland is not as business-friendly as it ought to be. And, by golly, candidates will say that something ought to be done about it. Here’s a suggestion: eliminate the most illogical and unfair business tax in this state: the personal property tax. For those who don’t know, the personal property tax is essentially an inventory tax, which is to say it’s a charge against the value of a business’s furniture and equipment, among other things. Never mind that this same furniture and equipment was taxed the year before, the year before that and the year before that. It is a never-ending cycle that really amounts to a use fee that businesses must pay for the right to use the equipment they bought and on which they also paid sales tax. This is in addition to business license fe...» Click here for the full story.
Workforce housing project worth supporting
Posted On: 10/17/13
This week the Berlin Town Council voted to support a workforce housing project with tax and other incentives of $167,000 over the course of 15 years. The Cannery Village project, slated for the east side of Berlin, is one of several being considered throughout the state under the Maryland and Federal Community Development tax equity program. It’s a project that couldn’t be more suited to the coastal area where those who work full-time in moderate-income jobs find it a challenge to ¬afford to live. For many it requires working an extra part-time job or two or finding roommates to help with the costs. The community of single-family homes will have rents ranging from about $400 to $900 per month. With average rents in the area ranging from $1,100 to $1,800 per month this is a real opportunity for those who struggle to make ends meet every month. For the developer, it becomes both a short- and long-term investment opportunity, with rental income for 15 years ...» Click here for the full story.
Maryland not so friendly in business tax area
Posted On: 10/10/13
A report issued this week by the Tax Foundation ranked Maryland among one of the worst in the nation for its state tax policies. The Foundation has just released its 2013-2014 State Business Tax Climate Index, ranking states based on corporate tax rates, individual income taxes, sales taxes, unemployment insurance and property taxes. Overall Maryland was ranked 41st out of 50, putting it in the bottom 10 nationwide. Deemed one of the worst for individual income taxes at 46th in that category, Maryland only fared slightly better in unemployment insurance taxes at 40th and property taxes at 41st in the nation. Maryland did rank better in both corporation taxes at 15th and was in the top 10 for its sales tax rate, at number 8. The list does not take into consideration levied fees, which has become a favored method to circumspect tax increases in recent years. Additionally, the Department of Labor reports that most job relocations are from one state to another, rather than...» Click here for the full story.