Budget ‘Challenges’ Discussed In Ocean Pines

OCEAN PINES – The Ocean Pines Association faces a number of challenges going into the next budget year, according to General Manger John Viola.

At Saturday’s meeting of the Ocean Pines Association (OPA) board of directors, Viola reviewed projected financial figures for the coming budget year. His comments came after initial budget books were distributed to board members last week.

“I believe everybody’s going to need time to review this budget,” he said. “Remember this is a working document.”

Viola told the board that while OPA was projected to end the current fiscal year about $650,000 positive to budget, that was largely because of a Paycheck Protection Program grant and funding from the Affordable Care Act.

In planning for the association’s coming fiscal year, which begins May 1, Viola said he’d instructed department heads to prepare their budgets as if there was no COVID-19 because he’d instead added a COVID-19 adjustment in separately. Key items included in the preliminary proposed budget include drainage, depreciation, bulkheads, and fire and EMS funding, among other projected increases.

Viola said medical benefit costs were expected to increase 30% this year, which could add as much as $30 to the annual assessment. Rising salaries could add $13 and liability insurance could add $7, Viola said.

OPA is also targeting drainage going forward and so the preliminary budget has $350,000 to $380,000 in funding in that category.

Viola pointed out that the $650,000 in favorability to the current year’s budget could help offset some of the next fiscal year’s expenses. He said the board would have to review the proposed budget and decide what assessment rate they were willing to pass on to the membership.

“Compared to other years, there’s a lot of challenges,” he said.

Viola and his team distributed preliminary budget binders to the board and members of the Ocean Pines Budget and Finance Committee Dec. 18. The committee will review the proposed budget during a series of public meetings in January. The document will then be forwarded to the OPA board of directors for review and approval.

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.