City Council approved a $518,448 annual budget to fund special events and promotions in three parts of town that serve as magnets for tourism and commerce.
The Special Improvement Districts include the downtown section of the Ocean City Boardwalk, the downtown area of Asbury Avenue and the Ninth Street gateway.
The SID budget for 2016, approved Thursday night by a 7-0 vote, matches last year’s level of funding, Council President Keith Hartzell said.
Hartzell characterized the SIDs as not only important for drawing visitors to town, but also as vital to giving them an array of entertainment and other things to do once they are here.
“We need to get the word out,” he said.
Some of the events funded by the SID budget include the fall and spring block parties on the Avenue, the October fireworks show, Family Nights and Mummers Nights on the boardwalk. The budget also funds flower pots and other upgrades to help beautify the city.
The boardwalk and downtown area serve as the epicenter for special events. SID funding for the Ninth Street gateway is devoted to radio advertising to attract visitors, according to city business administrator Jim Mallon.
Assessments on the businesses located within the SIDs help to underwrite the annual budget, along with other funding sources.
In other business Thursday, Council gave final approval to a measure dubbed the “ice cream ordinance.” It governs the number of licenses that the city issues to ice cream vendors who sell their products from bicycles.
Council voted to cut the number of licenses for bicycle ice cream vendors from 20 to 10 based on the advice of the city’s purchasing agent, Joe Clark.
Clark informed Council that 20 licenses weren’t needed. Some of the licenses go unused and simply “remain in the drawer and never get bid on,” City Solicitor Dorothy McCrosson said.
Hartzell said he spoke to the ice cream vendors and they had no objections to slashing the number of licenses in half. Despite the cutback, there will still be enough bicycle vendors to sell ice cream to the public, he added.
In another vote, Council appointed Richard Waddell and Michael Buck as new members to the Zoning Board after spending more than an hour interviewing 11 candidates in closed session.
Waddell and Buck had previously served as alternates on the Zoning Board, but now take full seats. Council voted to appoint Tom Rotondi and John Quinn as the new alternates.