BERLIN– The Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors voted 4-3 not to explore the possibility of hiring a professional management firm to run the homeowner’s association.
Following a contentious discussion, the majority of the board voted against the motion proposed by director Tom Herrick to create a committee to look at the feasibility of hiring a management company. Several directors criticized what they considered an attempt to undermine General Manager Bob Thompson.
“I feel like I’m in Washington D.C. or Iowa. We as a community for some unknown reason seem to want to make sport of constantly snipping away and hacking away at our administration,” director Tom Terry said. “This motion to me is completely out of line.”
Herrick said the purpose of the motion was simply to set up a committee to gather information regarding the feasibility of having a management company run the community. He pointed out that in April, Thompson’s contract would be up for renewal and it was possible the general manager would opt not to renew it.
“It is our obligation to prepare and protect our association for any scenarios that may occur,” Herrick said.
Director Bill Cordwell was quick to point out Thompson’s recent accomplishments as general manager.
“What does that have to do with asking for information?” Herrick replied. “To discuss the performance of the general manager is not what the purpose is.”
Director Cheryl Jacobs asked Herrick why he was concerned that Thompson might not want to renew his contract. Herrick responded that Thompson told him two years ago that if certain individuals were elected to the board of directors he’d leave.
“It alarmed me enough to say ‘are we prepared if that does happen,’” Herrick said. “We don’t know what the general manager will do. All this does is prepare us in case something happens.”
Cordwell said the motion was just an attack on the general manager. He pointed out that managers had come and gone before and the association had simply hired a replacement each time.
“To change the entire premise of what the community’s done since its inception I think is ridiculous,” Cordwell said.
Director Dave Stevens said the motion was simply an attempt to get information.
“It’s something that’s in our bylaws as an option and something that to my knowledge we’ve never explored,” he said. “What I think Tom was trying to say is there is uncertainty in the future…What Tom’s proposal will do is get information that will help the association reduce uncertainty in the future.”
Terry pointed out that replacing the manger with a management company would also involve replacing the association’s other employees.
“When you investigate hiring a professional management firm you’re talking about all of the employees of Ocean Pines being outsourced,” he said. “I think it just adds to the constant upheaval this community has to live with. We keep destabilizing what we’re trying to do. I think it’s totally inappropriate and misguided.”
“I believe the premise that there’s uncertainty is a bunch of hogwash…,” she said. “Something lives in this community that feels the need to always have negativity. I’m disappointed that this motion has been put before us. If you have problems with the general manager we’ll deal with that in a closed session which is the appropriate venue.”
Herrick maintained that his motion was not mean to be a condemnation of Thompson but rather an attempt to gather information.
Pat Renaud, president of the board, said he’d asked Thompson if he would consider and extension of his contract in April and Thompson had replied that he would. He went on to say that he had originally asked Herrick to save the motion for closed session as it was the more appropriate venue for it. He ended the discussion and called for a vote. Directors Herrick, Stevens and Jack Collins voted for the motion while Terry, Renaud, Jacobs and Cordwell voted against it.