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OCEAN CITY – Ocean City Council unanimously approved an $80.5 million budget for 2020 that slightly increases spending while keeping the local tax rate level.

The budget uses $4 million in surplus to avoid an increase in the tax rate, which is over $1 million more than last year.

The budget sets a local purpose tax rate of 45.9 cents per 100 of assessed value, which means the owner of a house assessed at $600,000 – about average for Ocean City – will pay $2,754 in city taxes next year, in addition to school and county taxes.

The city amended the budget as originally presented by Mayor Jay Gillian, which included eliminating a slight tax rate increase, citing the impact of the pandemic on the economy. The city also expects to take a hit in revenue, with beach tag sales, parking revenue and other income expected to decrease.

“At the end of the year, we’re going to be able to see where the chips fall and take that all into consideration for next year’s budget,” said Frank Donato, city finance director, “but I think we’ve got a good plan in place.”

According to Leon Costello, city auditor, the city is millions of dollars under the state limits on spending and tax increases.

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