OPA Board Approves Compensation Study

OCEAN PINES –  The Ocean Pines Association (OPA) Board of Directors agreed to spend up to $100,000 on a compensation study.

At a meeting Saturday, the board voted 6-0 to authorize the general manager to negotiate a contract not to exceed $100,000 for a full compensation study. The study is expected to include an analysis of OPA positions and salaries as well as an external salary survey and benefits study, among other things.

“In the last two budget cycles OPA has made decisions impacting benefits and compensation for employees with the promise to employees and OPA members that a professional compensation study would be conducted to guide present and future decisions,” said board member Colette Horn.

Horn told the board that the association sent a request for proposals for the study to several vendors but only received one bid. Nevertheless, she said the workgroup created by General Manager John Viola had reviewed the proposal and contacted the company’s references and wanted to proceed with a contract.

“The bidder has extensive experience doing this type of work for Eastern Shore municipalities,” she said.

Horn said she realized there was some “sticker shock” associated with the proposal but stressed that the two pay studies the board had already authorized hadn’t met OPA’s needs. She said the association owed members and employees a proper salary study.

“We agreed that we’d give no raises this past year and that in the next year we would have the information needed to make rational decisions about pay increases and adjustments based on the belief that there are some employees that are overpaid there are some employees that are underpaid,” she said.

Board member Frank Daly agreed.

“Over the past three years we’ve conducted two compensation studies,” he said. “One says none of our employees are overpaid. One says that 10%-plus are overpaid. One didn’t include the police force which is 25% of our budget. The other compensation study didn’t look at comparable homeowners associations to see what they paid. Neither of the studies looked at our benefits.”

Board member Jeff Knepper said the study would be valuable because it would serve the association for several years.

“This is not something that just occurs today,” he said. “It occurs with value over a period of time. That’s what other people who have done studies with this particular provider have said to us. They think the biggest value is the fact that it lives four years, five years, six years.”

Board member Steve Tuttle said he supported the concept of the study but was concerned about the price, as OPA had budgeted just $25,000 for the study. Doug Parks, president of the board, agreed that the price was high and suggested that the association work with the provider to find ways to cut certain costs within the proposal.

“I think there are points within this cost breakdown where we need to push that vendor,” he said. “We should be challenging ourselves to make sure that we make every effort. We owe the membership, we owe ourselves, we owe the employees that level of effort.”

Horn said that there were opportunities to save money within the proposal and that was why she’d suggested a “not-to-exceed” contract amount. The board voted 6-0 to authorize the general manager to proceed with negotiations.

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.