Pines Budget Review Cuts Planned Assessment Hike In Half

BERLIN – Homeowners in Ocean Pines could see a $30 assessment increase based on preliminary budget figures.

In a budget hearing Saturday, Ocean Pines Association (OPA) General Manager John Bailey said what started as a $60 increase was dropped to a $30 increase during budget deliberations last week.  He reminded residents, however, that the budget for the coming fiscal year would not be finalized until the end of February.

“There’s still a bit of process to go before the board votes five weeks from now to adopt a budget,” Bailey said.

Bailey said he’d spent several days meeting with OPA’s Budget and Finance Advisory Committee and discussing proposed spending.

He said the $30 assessment increase — which will bring the total assessment fee to $951 for non-waterfront lots — was intended to address the roughly $1.4 million deficit from the past two years. The association experienced a $369,000 deficit last year and was facing a deficit of roughly $1 million this year. Bailey said the increase was a “one-time approach” that could be reviewed annually.

Though the proposed budget initially included a $60 assessment increase, the half of it intended to cover operating expense changes was eliminated.

Bailey said most new capital expenditures had been deferred to future years.

“That would have actually added $31 to the assessment if we’d done all the new capital projects that were proposed,” he said.

Bailey said officials worked to make accurate revenue projections in the proposed budget. That resulted in major adjustments to revenue budgeted at the association’s beach club as well as the yacht club. Revenue at the beach facility has been budgeted at $449,000, a reduction of $276,750 from the current budget. At the yacht club, revenue is budgeted at $1.6 million, a reduction of $653,800 from the current budget.

“We reduced the percentage of payroll and benefits in relation to revenue from 59  percent to 44 percent,” Bailey said. “That reduced the proposed net operating loss from $338,000 to $101,000.”

As proposed, the total operating budget is $11.7 million for the coming fiscal year. Bailey said reserve balances remained positive. He’s scheduled to formally present the recommended budget to the association’s board of directors Saturday, Jan. 27, at 10 a.m. The board will then spend the next month making changes to the document before a final budget is adopted Feb. 25.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.