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.
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.