- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hurricane Irene’s battering of Ocean City cost the state more than $2 million in tax revenue, state Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot said Wednesday.

The popular Lower Eastern Shore resort town was evacuated Friday afternoon in advance of the storm and remained essentially closed to the public Saturday, as rain and high winds pelted the town.

State analysts estimate the lack of business and visitors during that period cost the state $1.75 million in sales tax revenue and $150,000 in withholding taxes. The state also lost about$60,000 in gas tax revenue, $45,000 in toll revenue from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and $40,000 in tax revenue from attractions and events.

“Ocean City is one of Maryland’s most powerful economic engines and a lost weekend at the height of the summer tourist season will certainly have an effect on our state’s finances, just as they have taken an obvious toll on businesses that are already dealing with tough economic times,” Mr. Franchot said in a statement, adding that he was “profoundly grateful” that residents survived the storm with few deaths or injuries.

The comptroller has asked the Bureau of Revenue Estimates to further study the storm’s economic impact, and said the information could be incorporated into state revenue estimates to be released in mid-September.