OCEAN PINES – Ocean Pines residents could see a substantial increase in their annual assessments if the recommended budget is approved.
The budget proposed by Ocean Pines Association (OPA) General Manager John Bailey for the coming fiscal year includes a recommended $127 assessment increase for property owners. The increase would bring the annual assessment to $1,078.
Residents will have an opportunity to provide feedback on the proposed budget Saturday at a meeting of the board set for 10 a.m. at the Ocean Pines Community Center.
“The budget that has been shared with the membership is the recommended budget presented by the GM for the board’s consideration and is by no means the final budget,” said Doug Parks, president of the board, in a statement this week.
In an executive summary released Jan. 25, Bailey outlines the key aspects of the budget and explains that it creates a foundation for a healthy financial future in the Pines. He said the budget he recommended include properly calculated reserve contributions, updated depreciation calculations, more than $600,000 in new capital expenditures — for additions at the police station and Sports Core Pool — as well as funding for deferred operational maintenance and drainage.
“It does not arbitrarily attempt to avoid addressing OPA issues in favor of assessment calculations,” Bailey wrote in the executive summary. “This approach provides the community with the opportunity to participate in
the decision process and allows the board of directors to specifically identify which areas will not be funded, if any, and why, in the next fiscal year.”
The recommended budget also includes $128,000 to ensure currently underfunded positions in the Pines are brought into “better alignment with the competing marketplace.” Other proposed payroll adjustments include a 2 percent labor pool increase to be distributed based on merit as well as an increase in medical benefit costs.
Bailey stressed that the budget development process had been a collaborative one, with input from staff, board members, the Ocean Pines Budget and Finance Advisory Committee and the public.
While the board did provide input in several work sessions, Parks said in his statement that directors were still reviewing the proposed spending plan.
“The board is evaluating a number of items included in the capital expenses, reserve contributions and salary adjustments,” he said. “Other considerations are being given to the priorities of major projects and the expense associated with among other items, drainage, deferred maintenance, deficit recovery and road reserves. The intent is to determine what our operations team can realistically be expected to complete in the upcoming fiscal year, and only fund those initiatives in this budget.”
He said directors fully expected additional changes to the budget before adoption. Following Saturday’s meeting, the board will spend the next two weeks submitting budget adjustments to Bailey before adopting the final budget Feb. 16. The association’s fiscal year is set to begin May 1.