OP’s Approved Budget Includes $35 Assessment Hike

BERLIN – The Ocean Pines Association has approved a $12.5 million budget that includes a $35 assessment increase for homeowners for the coming fiscal year.

On Feb. 23, the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors voted 6-1, with Director Slobodan Trendic opposed, to approve the budget, which has undergone countless changes in recent weeks.

While the association has funded 100 percent of employee insurance costs in the past, board members agreed this year to have employees cover 20 percent of the cost while the association would cover 80 percent. In an effort to lessen the financial impact on employees, the proposed budget included $97,000 for a lump sum payment to employees.

“I don’t think we’ll get a lot of blowback with regard to the concept of saying ‘hey we asked you to pay 20 percent more and we’re willing to give you ‘x’ as a way to soften that blow this year,’” said Doug Parks, president of the board. “I would just urge us to try to make sure we move forward.”

Trendic said he would not support the budget because he didn’t like the way the association was addressing its deficit by collecting money from property owners when there were other options to be explored.

“The easiest thing to do is to increase taxes, to increase assessments,” he said. “It seems like we have adopted the government mentality.”

Trendic suggested delaying a vote on the budget until the board’s March meeting. Director Esther Diller disagreed.

“I’m not happy with the assessment amount we have at this point, but I don’t know where we can cut anymore,” she said. “We’ve been beating this to death for six weeks.”

Items removed from the proposed budget in recent weeks included the addition at the Sports Core Pool and $47,000 in marketing funding for television and radio ads. On Saturday, the board added the $72,000 that was set aside for merit raises to the list of removed items.

Director Frank Daly asked whether the board should put funding for an operational assessment in the budget.

“That’s an issue,” he said. “We need to take a look completely, stem to stern, at how we’re organized and managed to do things better in the future than we’ve done in the immediate past.”

The board agreed that the task should begin now, however, and so would likely be in the current year’s budget.

Parks pointed out the coming fiscal year would need to include an executive search, as General Manager John Bailey left last month, so the board added $25,000 in to the proposed budget.

The board voted 6-1, with Trendic opposed, to approve a budget of $12,532,996 that includes an annual assessment of $986.

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.