Pines Board Holds Off Charity Refund Decision

BERLIN – The Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors agreed to delay a decision on refunding a local charity until a management task force weighs in on the community’s amenity use policy.

Although Director Marty Clarke introduced a motion to refund Star Charities the $450 it was charged to use the Ocean Pines Community Center, the board voted to table it until a task force created by General Manager Bob Thompson issued its report on amenity use.

“The underlying issue is we’re waiting on input from the general manager and his group of advisors,” said Dave Stevens, president of the board.

Anna Foultz, founder of Star Charities, approached the board in January to complain about the fact that her group, a well-known nonprofit, had been charged $450 to use the community center for a fundraiser and hadn’t even been able to have it for the entire day of the event.

In response, Clarke proposed refunding the money at Saturday’s board meeting. He said the general manager should have been presenting a fee schedule (associated with the use of Pines-owned facilities) to the board every year and had not done so.

Director Tom Terry said that if the board refunded Star Charities, other groups could seek reimbursement. He suggested considering the refund once Thompson’s committee had made its amenity use proposal.

“If there is no policy, we’re going to open the door for everybody,” Terry said.

Stevens agreed that an updated policy was important but stressed that the question of what charities and other local groups should be charged to use Ocean Pines Association facilities had to be answered soon.

“This is a longstanding issue,” he said. “There are real people that have real issues with this and they’re waiting on us to come up with a policy.”

Clarke said under the existing policy, Resolution M-02, Thompson should have established amenity use rates as part of the annual budget process.

“The general manager, with the approval of the board, shall establish annually a schedule of fees for fee-based amenities as part of the annual budget process,” the resolution reads.

Thompson said he hadn’t adjusted the facility rental rates since joining OPA staff and so hadn’t presented the board with a fee schedule. He added that Foultz’s group had used multiple rooms in the community center and had been charged less than the existing rates called for.

Thompson said the task force he had looking into amenity use policy would have a report for the board within 60 days.

“We’re taking our time crafting language that addresses the ‘I don’t knows,’” he said.

Director Sharyn O’Hare suggested considering the Star Charities matter again when that was done. She pointed out that because the group had already held the event, the timing of the potential refund wasn’t likely to matter.

“I think there’s value in getting this done properly,” she said.

The board voted 5-2 to table the matter with Clarke and Stevens opposed.