OCEAN CITY — A seemingly innocuous request for upgrades and other costs at the Boardwalk information cottage last week touched off the larger debate about funding more city expenses through a portion of the room tax dedicated to tourism marketing.
At last Tuesday’s meeting, the Mayor and Council had before them a request for funding needed for the Boardwalk information cottage, an overgrown kiosk of sorts where volunteers and some paid employees dispense information to tourists on a wide variety of questions about Ocean City and its special events, for example. The request from the Downtown Association includes $250 for phone and Internet service, along with $5,000 for staffing to supplement the volunteers that man the booth during the summer. The cottage is largely manned by volunteers, including some councilmembers, but some paid part-timers are needed to fill the void at times.
In addition, the Downtown Association was seeking roughly $2,000 for upgrades to the Boardwalk cottage including carpet replacement, window replacements and other aesthetic improvements. The council ultimately approved the funding requests, but not before a continued debate on where some expenditures should be appropriately placed in the budget and which costs should be absorbed by the portion of the room tax dedicated to tourism.