Ocean Pines Hires Consultant For Compensation Study

OCEAN PINES –  Ocean Pines Association officials this week signed a contract for a comprehensive compensation study that will look at employee wages and benefits.

On Wednesday, Doug Parks, president of the Ocean Pines Association (OPA) Board of Directors, signed a contract with New York firm Sibson Consulting for a compensation study. The cost will be $48,000 to $51,000.

“We just want to make sure we’re in line with similar organizations in terms of compensation,” Parks said.

Earlier this month, the board voted 6-0 to authorize General Manager John Viola to negotiate a contract for the study with a not-to-exceed price of $100,000. At the time, Parks and other board members said they wanted to make sure the study didn’t duplicate anything the association already had on file.

“During the discussion we had, we challenged the general manager to make revisions based on information we already had,” Parks said, adding that Viola had done just that in working with staff and a work group. “They basically were able to reduce it by just over half.”

Director Colette Horn was a strong advocate for moving forward with the study.

“The consultant will be helping Ocean Pines develop a strategy for making any compensation adjustments needed, based on their findings and based on upcoming changes to minimum wage,” Horn said. “They will be providing us with tools to set and adjust compensation such that we will be able to forecast payroll and benefit costs more than a year at a time.”

The contract signed this week includes several phases, as the company will customize a market survey and distribute it to up to 12 towns and homeowners associations. Sibson will then compare Ocean Pines’ salary ranges and benefits packages to those of other communities and provide a report on the findings. Based on the report, the company will develop pay schedules as well as salary structures and incentives that “can be supported without excessive increases to the yearly property owner assessments.” The firm will estimate the cost of the proposed changes and make a final presentation to the board.

Viola said the cost of the approved contract was lower than the original amount approved by the board because association staff would be taking on some of the work, including writing job descriptions using templates approved by Sibson.

“We want a comprehensive, benchmarked evaluation, by position, with a review of job descriptions and compensation ranges including a minimum, maximum and midpoint,” Viola said. “It has to be a complete, comprehensive analysis of our compensation package – and not just salary.”

Michelle Bennett, the association’s executive secretary and a member of the work group that helped finalize the contract, said she thought the study would benefit homeowners and employees.

“As the employees received benefit cuts and no pay increases this year, it was not an easy decision to spend this money,” she said. “However, the community and the employees deserve a study we can all believe in and follow through with. We believe this will help both groups in the long term.”

Tom Terry, a former board member who participated in the work group, said it was important for an organization the size of Ocean Pines to have a study done.

“Updates need to be made to assure we have a competitive compensation package, while meeting the financial capabilities of the OPA,” he said.

Sibson Consulting is expected to start work on Aug. 7. The targeted completion date for the study is the end of October, which will allow OPA to work the results into the coming year’s budget.

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.