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.
Commitee could help review, make decisions
Posted On: 9/26/13
The Ocean Pines Yacht Club was demolished this week as work on the new building got into full gear, and with that has come an uproar from some on changing work orders and materials. It’s not to be unexpected, as change orders occur in projects of any size, especially one of this nature. What is concerning, however, is that unlike the community center, which in the view of most went smoothly through the construction process, that yacht club project has no advisory committee to help review and make decisions. Recently, Ted Moroney, a key member the advisory committee for the building resigned, stating that he felt decisions are being made unilaterally by OPA general manager Bob Thompson and the committee in effect is serving no true purpose. It has been a contentious year in OPA land, with members of the board and community split between full support of the general manager and some who look for any opportunity to call a foul. For former business owners who ...» Click here for the full story.
Change of season, now time to enjoy ourselves
Posted On: 9/19/13
Late September not only brings a change of season with more moderate temperatures, but it’s also a time of year that locals look forward to, as the huge crowds and resulting traffic jams dissipate. For those who live here year-round or own businesses, it’s a time to relax a bit now that family, friends and resort visitors have gone back to their everyday lives. Save for the occasional hurricane, the fall season is best enjoyed outdoors and as Ocean City marks the end of the high season at the beach with Sunfest, towns throughout the region also are gearing up for festival season. This weekend kicks it off with the annual Fiddler’s Convention in Berlin, a two-day festival of music and competition for bluegrass enthusiasts. On the heels of this comes several car cruising events, followed by Octoberfest celebrations, Halloween festivities, wine festivals and a celebration of the arts for many communities. Not to be overlooked is that this time of year i...» Click here for the full story.
Power struggle between Berlin Fire Co. and town
Posted On: 9/5/13
The recent ramping up of the power struggle between the Berlin Fire Company and the town serves no purpose other than to try to heighten the concerns of residents who so far have refrained from looking at the issue from an emotional standpoint. By calling for a show of resident support at the upcoming council meeting, the fire company is putting the town in a difficult position. The town managed to avoid being included in a recently filed lawsuit by having taken corrective action once grievances were brought to their attention. However, now restoring funding without any action being taken by the fire company on personnel named in the suit could leave the town running the risk of being a party to any fire company actions. Additional questions will certainly be raised on whether taxpayer funds should be used to defend the fire company in the lawsuit and if any of those funds are also being used to defend the individuals themselves. Certainly, it is in everyone’s...» Click here for the full story.
Lawsuit could answer all community's questions
Posted On: 8/29/13
The lawsuit filed this week by a former Berlin Fire Company employee will now bring to full light allegations made against members of the fire company, with a federal court helping the community to decide if the rift between the town and the company warranted its defunding. While there is no question the continued deadlock between the town council and the company needs to get resolved, making that happen without clear resolution of the allegations has made that almost impossible. The community, to its credit, has remained mostly silent on the issue, refusing to embrace the rumor and hyperbole that ensued after the allegations were made. Certainly there has to be a concern by many that a continuation of the dispute could lead to a risk of public safety, especially after further questions were raised at an accident scene earlier this year. The deeper issue still be left to be resolved is the matter of on-going accountability. This is not unique to Berlin, but also one...» Click here for the full story.
Number of justifications for restructuring calendar
Posted On: 8/22/13
At some point over the years, state education officials changed the way the world works for public school students. There was a time, after all, when August was still a full month of vacation, because school didn’t start until after Labor Day. There are, without a doubt, any number of justifications for the restructuring of the school calendar, with the trend in the past decade ending the spring term earlier in June and bringing students back to schoo just before the end-of-summer holiday. But those justifications aside, this makes poor economic sense for a number of reasons and most notably in Worcester County, where the lifeblood of the economy is tourism, where extending the summer through the full month of August can have huge impact on the financial success of the region for businesses large and small. Not only are tourism dollars affected, but also businesses that rely on student labor are now scrambling to fill part-time jobs as students leave in droves t...» Click here for the full story.
Building downtown Berlin area and doing it right
Posted On: 8/8/13
It’s obvious from the numbers that Berlin is doing all the right things. Since 2008, 62 new businesses have opened with a turnover of only 27, a low number considering the challenging economic conditions the past five years. Even better news is that included in the 27 were owners who retired or those who businesses are still in operation but relocated outside of the downtown business district. Certainly there were also some that did not succeed due to underfunding or an idea that just didn’t work in the marketplace, but overall Berlin continues to shine as an example of how to thrive as a business hub. Much of this has been due to the work of an excellent economic development office along with a business friendly mayor and council, in addition to the business owners themselves, who cooperatively work together to bolster the town’s image and support each other’s efforts. The popularity of the ever-increasing list of events along with enhan...» Click here for the full story.
Letters to the Editor
Posted On: 8/8/13
Editor, My wife and I go to Berlin quite often to enjoy ‘small town America.’ It reminds me of the old 1950s TV shows when all was right with the world. When Berlin hosts their special events we will meet our friends, and always enjoy ourselves. When we attend these events you will look around and see smiles on everyone’s faces, both young and old. The town and the merchants go out of their way to assure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience. There is nothing else more “small town America” than Little League baseball. Now, thanks to the area merchants, the Berlin Little League will travel to Connecticut in style to enjoy an experience of a lifetime, and represent Berlin as the Maryland State Champion. Thanks to the area families, businesses, fraternal organizations and all who gave donations, it represents Berlin in a very positive way. And best of all, it takes me back to the 1950s, when life was “small town America....» Click here for the full story.
Casino funds will aid small business
Posted On: 5/9/13
The recent announcement that the Maryland Board of Public Works has designated Worcester County one of three fund managers to oversee distribution of casino monies set aside to provide loans to small, minority and woman-owned businesses, is great news for small businesses locally that have had trouble getting traditional loans to expand or modernize in recent years. Approximately $430,000 in annual loan funding will be available for companies with fewer than 500 employees and revenues averaging less than $35 million over three years. Fifty percent of the funding must be lent to businesses located within a 10-mile radius of Ocean Downs. These monies will be available for up to five years, with a total estimate of more than $2 million to be allocated over that period. Regardless of which side of the casino fence you sit, this is a real boon to our local economy, as small businesses make up the largest segment of the marketplace, and more importantly provide area residents with t...» Click here for the full story.