Ocean Pines Approves $11 Million Budget

BERLIN- Ocean Pines Association officials wrapped up months of deliberation this week as they approved an $11 million annual budget.

The budget, approved by a 4-3 vote March 12, is highlighted by a $12 dues increase for residents. The basic Ocean Pines Association assessment will be $921 for the fiscal year beginning May 1.

Although several board members advocated for no dues increase, director Tom Terry said the additional funding sought by the Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Department made it necessary.

“The fire department budget was going to raise the dues $24,” he said. “We’ve gotten it down to $12.”

In approving the budget, the board increased the projected golf loss for the coming year to $100,000. Dave Stevens, president of the board, suggested the change in hopes that it would mean the course wouldn’t end the year off budget.

“We need a realistic loss number,” he said. “I think the best we can do is $100,000.”

While there appeared to be general consensus on that point, directors disagreed on the association’s reserve account policies. Terry called for keeping the five-year funding plan in place for the time being. He said the board told residents when the Yacht Club was built that $130 of the annual assessment would go toward paying for it. He said that needed to continue until association had paid for the $4.75 million building.

Director Marty Clarke, however, said the building had been paid for and that while the money being collected was supposed to be restoring the OPA fund that had been used to pay for it, the money was in fact being used for unbudgeted expenses. He said the funding plan wasn’t needed because there was plenty of money in the association’s reserve accounts and that no major projects were planned for the coming year.

“You put money in the bank and somebody at this table will find a way to spend it,” Clarke said.

Nevertheless, the budget Terry proposed was approved, with Clarke, Stevens and director Jack Collins in opposition. Collins said that no assessment increase was necessary.

“We don’t have to do that,” he said. “I just don’t think you can continue to put pressure on the individual members year after year.”

Under the approved budget, the $2.1 million in capital spending for the coming year will include $50,000 for a reserve study and $40,000 for an electronic sign, along with funding for a number of other items. The $11 million budget is also based on the association lowering its payroll by $150,000.