Position Statement from the OPA Board of Directors
(See message board discussion - Board Punts on Slots )
On December 19, 2007, the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors passed a motion to “initiate an effort, including meetings with State legislators and County officials, to ensure that Ocean Pines shares in any revenues generated by “Slots” operations IF slots are approved in the November 2008, state-wide referendum.”
Directors Les Purcell, Bill Rakow and Reid Sterrett looked at House Bill 3, reviewed the history of the past 6 years with regard to State efforts to institute ‘slots,’ reviewed the working relationship between the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors and the Worcester County Commissioners, and met in person with Del. Jim Mathias to better understand the intricacies and nuances of the ‘process’ of the proposed slots legislation, as it is expected to unfold over the next two years.
It was established that there are no forgone conclusions as to whether or not the “slots” referendum will be approved in the state-wide referendum to be held in November 2008.
It was established that there is still the possibility that if “slots” are approved in the 2008 state-wide referendum, that the Worcester County Commissioners could, conceivably, attempt to “rezone” the area to “exclude slots.”
It was established that if “slots” are approved by the state-wide referendum in 2008, that possible legal challenges could emerge to try to prevent them from being placed in Worcester County.
It was established that if “slots” for Worcester County are eventually approved, that Worcester County would receive local impact grants based on a percentage of gross “revenues” from those “slots.” Of that revenue, 70% will be “controlled” by the Worcester County Commissioners, 20% will revert to the Town of Ocean City, and 10% will revert to the Town of Berlin.
It was established that HB3 establishes a 15-member Local Development Council that shall review and comment on the multi-year plan prepared by the County for the use of the grant funding before the County may expend these funds. Local impact grants may be used for the following purposes:
1. infrastructure improvements
3. public safety
5. economic and community development, including housing
6. other public services and improvements.
It was established that one of the ‘keys’ to the “slots referendum” in Worcester County is the status of Rt. 589 and its related improvements should “slots” be approved. The bill states that the State of Maryland SHALL take the necessary steps to ensure that the plans for the improvements and enhancements to MD route 589 are “under development on or before the date on which the video lottery facility (slots) at the Worcester County location is operational and open to the public.”
It was established that under projected, optimum conditions, that the maximum amount of “slots revenue” that would be generated to Ocean Pines, if Ocean Pines was classified as a community that had a “10%” share of a surplus,” would be approximately $300,000 - $500,000 per year rather then the purported “millions of dollars” that have been speculated on.
It was the opinion of Directors Purcell, Rakow, and Sterrett that Ocean Pines would be better served, in the long run, by enhancing and maintaining a close, working-relationship with the Worcester County Commissioners on any slot-related issue or any revenue sharing issue rather than demanding Ocean Pines be designated a specific percentage of some anticipated, but unknown, “slot” revenue. We believe that through this relationship, Ocean Pines would be given a fair consideration from the impacts of “slots” and other economic matters affecting our Association.
It was the opinion of Directors Purcell, Rakow, and Sterrett that the Local Development Council, with the appropriate representation, would present Ocean Pines with its “best chance” of future consideration of ‘need-related, revenue sharing’ and ‘community use’ of any “extra revenue” available; whether related to ‘slots’ or not. It was also felt that the need for Ocean Pines to maintain a compatible, cordial, and professional relationship with our Worcester County Commissioners far outweighs any theoretical enhancement of Ocean Pines’ coffers due to an as-yet-undetermined, slots-related process.
Therefore, at this time, the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors will not recommend nor participate in any actions related to the “slots issue” until further notice.
Respectfully submitted on 1-14-08,