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  • Council Approves Millions in Capital Projects

    first_imgAn architectural rendering depicts the new overhang that was just added to the Sports & Civic Center’s entrance as part of a major renovation. (Courtesy of City of Ocean City) By DONALD WITTKOWSKICity Council on Thursday awarded a total of $6.8 million in construction contracts for dozens of road maintenance projects and also introduced a bond ordinance to help pay for beach replenishment and the expansion of the Ocean City Sports & Civic Center.The road projects will largely consist of milling and paving work, sidewalk and gutter improvements and drainage upgrades.They will be concentrated in the 12th Street neighborhood, in the city’s midtown section from 25th to 34th streets and in the south end of town from 48th to 54th streets. Streets in the surrounding blocks in each of those areas will be improved.In a separate vote, Council introduced a $6.5 million bond ordinance to finance two big-ticket projects, beach replacement and the expansion of the aging Sports & Civic Center.The city plans to spend $3 million to give the now-drab Sports & Civic Center a facelift. New locker rooms and bathrooms will be built. An overhang will be added to the entryway to protect people from the rain and also to spruce up the building.Noting the need for the building’s overhaul, Councilman Keith Hartzell said the Sports & Civic Center is a facility that screams out “come fix me up.”Despite its utilitarian appearance, the building plays an important role in the city’s sports scene and as the venue for special events, including festivities for the family-friendly First Night celebration on New Year’s Eve.Hoping to turn it into a bigger, more functional facility, the city will expand and renovate it. Frank Donato, the city’s chief financial officer, explained that the expansion project should lead to more college sports teams using the building and the adjacent Carey Stadium high school athletic complex.The sports complex is already rented by some college athletic programs for their workouts. Villanova University’s football team, for instance, practices at the stadium each year.Frank Donato, the city’s chief financial officer, tells Council the expansion of the Sports & Civic Center will make the building more attractive and functional.Meanwhile, the bond ordinance also includes $3 million to help the city pay for its share of a beach replenishment project expected to get underway this fall and be completed in time for the 2020 summer tourism season.Ocean City, Sea Isle City and Strathmere are part of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers beach replenishment project that will deposit a total of 2.4 million cubic yards of fresh sand along the eroded shoreline of all three towns.A $32.5 million contract been awarded for the project. However, there are options built into the contract that could push the cost up to $41.3 million if surveys of the storm-damaged beaches show that even more sand is needed for replenishment.According to initial figures, Ocean City will receive 800,000 cubic yards of new sand to replenish the beaches in the north end of town from Seaview Road to 13th Street. Another 455,000 cubic yards of sand will help restore the beaches in the southern end from 49th to 59th streets.Ocean City and other beach towns along the Jersey Shore were hammered by a lingering coastal storm that brought strong winds and a series of destructive high tides from Oct. 9 to the morning of Oct. 12.Donato told the Council members that the city wants to piggyback on the Army Corps of Engineers’ beach replenishment project to install a large geotube that would help protect the shoreline between Fourth and Fifth streets.The geotube, essentially an elongated synthetic “sock” filled with sand, would be used to reinforce the dunes at Fourth and Fifth streets, an area that is particularly vulnerable to beach erosion, Donato noted. It would be around two blocks long.The city earlier installed a geotube to help protect the beachfront at Waverly Boulevard and was pleased with the results. The hope is that a new geotube at Fourth and Fifth streets would also be a success.The beach replenishment project will help restore the city’s storm-damaged shoreline.Also Thursday, Council introduced a series of ordinances to help the city meet its state-mandated “fair share” of affordable housing. The ordinances stem from a 2018 court settlement in which Ocean City agreed to provide affordable housing for low- and moderate-income residents.Most notably, one of the ordinances includes $900,000 in funding for the city to buy a building from the county that could be used as a site for affordable homes. The building, at 3300-3400 Bay Avenue, formerly served as an American Legion hall.Plans are still being discussed for the property, but it will most likely be used as a site for affordable housing and to support the city’s recreation programs, city officials said.It has not yet been decided whether the former American Legion building will be part of those plans or whether it would be demolished to make room for new development, City Solicitor Dorothy McCrosson.Earlier this year, McCrosson explained that Ocean City has carefully crafted its affordable housing plan in a way that will allow new construction to blend in with the rest of the neighborhoods without “jamming up” the town with high-density projects.The city dramatically reduced its affordable housing obligation with a court-approved agreement last year that would require 93 units, instead of 1,687, for low-income families, seniors and the disabled.The city is financing affordable housing projects in partnership with the Ocean City Housing Authority. There are plans to build a new 32-unit affordable housing complex for senior citizens next to the authority’s Bayview Manor site at Sixth Street and West Avenue.Separately, a shared-services agreement with the city will also allow the authority to move forward with the rehabilitation of 61 units of affordable housing at Bayview Manor.City Council approves a series of contracts and ordinances for major capital improvements throughout town.last_img read more

  • Minister gives village, local leaders pep talk on using budget to cushion COVID-19 effects

    first_imgHome Minister Tito Karnavian is urging village heads and local leaders to speed up their budget proposals to immediately get transfers from the central government and reallocate spending to prioritize the mitigation of COVID-19.District heads should expedite the review of the village budgets (APBDes), Tito said, adding that governors, mayors and regents should encourage village leaders to file their budget proposals. Regional leaders, he added, should focus on sustaining the economy and containing COVID-19 when spending their budgets.“For village heads, focus on labor-intensive programs. District heads should also streamline the review process. Please wrap up the process soon so the village funds could be quickly proposed to the Finance Ministry and immediately transferred,” he said in Bandung, West Java, on Wednesday. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has pinned his hopes on programs using village funds to maintain people’s purchasing power. The budget could be used to prioritize labor-intensive public work projects or other productive programs, he said.Besides demanding village heads file their APBDes and disburse the village funds, Tito also urged city and provincial-level governments that had already received funding to immediately use their budgets, in order to boost cash flows and support their regions’ economic activities.Tito on March 16 issued Home Ministerial Regulation No.20/2020 on local administration response toward COVID-19, which requires local administrations to prioritize their budget use to anticipate the spread of the virus and its larger adverse impacts.Read also: Government to front-load social, rural spending to boost household expenditureSimultaneously, Finance Ministry Sri Mulyani Indrawati also issued Ministerial Regulation No.19/2020 on the disbursement of revenue sharing funds, general purpose grants and regional incentive funds in the financial year 2020 to mitigate the effects of COVID-19. Budgets should prioritize health systems and COVID-19 prevention, according to the regulation.“The regulations give local leaders authority to reallocate their funds to combat COVID-19 while only giving notice to the Regional House of Representatives [DPRD],” Tito said, adding that the DPRD should keep monitoring the budget use.Local governments need to cushion COVID-19’s impact on the economy, the minister said, as small enterprises, especially at tourist destinations, are feeling the pinch because of the social distancing policy.“The budget reallocation also needs to ensure the economy is running. If businesses remain alive, then we could survive this pandemic crisis,” Tito said.President Jokowi on Sunday called on all Indonesians to practice what epidemiologists call social distancing, which includes minimizing nonessential travel and leaving space between one person and another in direct contact to slow the spread of COVID-19.Indonesia confirmed 82 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, bringing the total to 308. The government also announced there had been 25 fatalities from the disease. (mpr)Topics : The government has allocated Rp 72 trillion (US$4.4 billion) for village funds in the 2020 state budget. As of today only Rp 11.52 trillion, or 40 percent of the funds’ first-phase transfer, have been disbursed as many villages have yet to submit their APBDes.“Sixty percent of the funds’ first phase hasn’t been disbursed because the villages haven’t submitted their budget proposals,” he said.The first phase budget disbursement of village funds, which began in January, consists of 40 percent of the overall Rp 72 trillion budget for village funds, followed by 40 percent and 20 percent for phases two and three, respectively.Home Minister Tito Karnavian salutes during the Indonesia Onward Cabinet announcement by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Oct. 23, 2019. (JP/Seto Wardhana)last_img read more

  • ‘Antique’s natural wonders lure tourists’

    first_img“Tourists would like to see Antique’stourism sites that are still raw and untapped,” Gov. Rhodora Cadiao said.     Last year, tourist arrivals in theprovince generated receipts amounting to around P2 million, which Abiera saidcould increase this year.  “Once the data from the towns ofBarbaza, Hamtic and Bugasong will be in, the same-day tourist arrivals couldexceed that of last year’s, which was 1.1 million,” he said. Meanwhile, Provincial Board MemberNoel Alamis, who chairs the committee on tourism, said the increase in thearrivals can be attributed to the promotion of tourism destinations by themedia. Abiera added three municipalities haveyet to submit their tourist arrivals from January.  The Tono River in Tibiao, Antique is frequented by tourists who enjoy water sports. The photo was taken during the National River Tubing Competition on November. ANNABEL CONSUELO J. PETINGLAY/PNA center_img Based on the Provincial TourismOffice’s partial report on tourist arrivals, around 906,899 same-day visitorshave arrived in the province from January to October this year.    SAN JOSE, Antique – This provinceexpects to lure more visitors as it noted the increasing arrival of touristswho wanted to explore its natural wonders.  “We are still waiting for reports onthe months of Nov. to Dec. 2019,” said Arjan Fritz Abiera, administrative aideand in charge of the statistics. He added tourists usually visit theIgbaclag Cave and the highlands of San Remigio, which is considered as the“Little Baguio” of Antique and Rafflesia – as the biggest flower in the world;Siraan Hot Spring in Anini-y and the Malumpati Cold Spring in Pandan; whitesand beach of Mararison Island in Culasi; and the Tono River in Tibiao wherethe National River Tubing is held yearly.(Witha report from PNA/PN)last_img read more

  • Infantino accused of interference by ousted expert

    first_imgLONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) – A governance expert fired by FIFA yesterday accused the leadership of world football’s governing body of interfering with his work, ignoring rules, and removing him in order to stay in power.Speaking to Members of Parliament (MPs) on Britain’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Miguel Maduro gave a devastating indictment of FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s commitment to reform and said only “external pressure” would force the organisation to change.Appointed as chairman of FIFA’s Governance committee in May 2016, the Portuguese academic was replaced, without warning, 11 months later after falling out with Infantino over several “sensitive” decisions.Foremost among those was Maduro’s refusal to allow Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko to stand for a seat on FIFA’s council because it was a clear breach of the rules against governmental interference in football.Maduro told the MPs when he raised objections to Mutko’s candidacy, Infantino made his opposition “very clear”.According to Maduro, Infantino said blocking Mutko would have a negative impact on the 2018 World Cup in Russia and he believed there was “no evidence” the former Russian sports minister had been involved in the state-sponsored doping programme revealed by a World Anti-Doping Agency investigation last year.Maduro was blocking Mutko for the reason that having a Deputy Prime Minister on the council undermined FIFA’s actions against some associations for political interference.Maduro described Infantino as a man who he believes started with the intention of tackling an “embedded culture” that is “extremely resistant to independent scrutiny” but who has chosen “to survive politically”.Infantino replaced the disgraced Sepp Blatter as FIFA boss in 2016, vowing to lead the scandal-tainted body into a new era.Former Portuguese minister for regional development Maduro said the “systemic culture” comes “from the ground up” and there are associations and confederations that do not understand what good governance looks like or why it is even desirable.“FIFA is a system of rules without the rule of law,” he explained.Maduro said he was more than happy to take advantage of parliamentary privilege, which provides protection from legal action in British courts, to speak freely about FIFA, as there was an obvious “public interest” defence.last_img read more

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