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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Berlin at crossroads of preservation and cost

Letter writer Jeff Smith makes a good point this week: no one wants to see a repeat of the money scramble Berlin officials and residents experienced during this year’s budget process.

It’s certain that the mayor and council don’t want to go through that mess again, and property owners, who never like tax surprises, will side with them in that regard.

But exactly what to do, other than to establish a lean and mean budgeting approach and a property tax schedule that will cover the town’s obligations and put money aside for future improvements, isn’t all that apparent.

Planning for the future is easier said than done, as it entails envisioning a specific future, and many residents don’t agree on what that should be.

Balancing the desire to preserve the small-town charm that makes the town a highly regarded residential community with the need for growth to help pay the rising costs of maintaining that quality of life is the dilemma townspeople and elected officials face.

It’s unrealistic — and unfair — for property owners to insist that the cost of government and its employees remain in financial stasis for years on end, just as opening the town to developmental sprawl and garish commerciality could ruin the historical appeal the town has nurtured.

Entreating people to fight back against tax increases is not the answer, because such opposition ought to offer a real solution to the problem instead of insisting it’s all government’s fault. It isn’t.

The town is at a crossroads and its government needs to know which way to go and what price townspeople are prepared to pay to get there.