OPA Expects Budget Challenges

OCEAN PINES – Officials say inflation and minimum wage could have impacts on next year’s budget.

In a meeting of the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors last Saturday, General Manager John Viola announced that preparations have begun on the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year. He noted that he and his staff were working closely with the association’s Budget and Finance Committee and all department heads to develop some preliminary numbers, which will be presented to the committee in January.

“We addressed any assumptions, pricing, expense control, capital outlays in the DMA study, with the team,” he said. “We also addressed the surplus, so when I present the proposed budget it will probably be a little different this year. I will be addressing surplus that we have, surplus that we realized last year.”

Viola said he is also taking other factors into consideration during this year’s budget process.

“There are headwinds this year …,” he said. “Inflation is certainly on the rise and that will affect the budget.”

Viola added that the association must also account for statutory increases in minimum wage this year.

“We will break that out for everybody and what that effect is on our financials …,” he said. “There will also be a separate category for above minimum wage. As we’ve seen this year, between COVID and everything else, minimum wage maybe is not cutting it for us to hire people or even keep people.”

Viola told board members those numbers would be broken out and analyzed during the budget process. He noted it also warranted a deeper look into the association’s amenities.

“With the inflation and price increases, and with the increases in minimum wage and everything, it is prudent … to be looking at pricing increases for our amenities, aquatics, golf, racquet sports,” he said. “That will be part of it.”

Public Works Office Manager Linda Martin noted that budget worksheets have been distributed to all department heads, and preliminary budget numbers have been reviewed with Viola.

“The final draft will be reviewed by Budget and Finance on Jan. 4-6, with the review with the Board of Directors tentatively scheduled for later in February,” she said.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.