OCEAN PINES – Election results, financial reports and presentations on various community initiatives highlighted the Ocean Pines Association’s annual meeting.
For the first time since 2018, more than 100 association members were in attendance for the community’s annual meeting, held at the Ocean Pines Community Center on Aug. 13. For the first time in its history, the association held its annual gathering in a hybrid format, allowing members to attend both in person and online.
“It looks like we have a quorum,” President Colette Horn announced on Saturday. “I want to thank all of those who are here and the 38 people attending virtually to push us over the mark.”
Each year, the Ocean Pines Association (OPA) holds an annual meeting to conduct business, hear public comments and validate election results. In her report to the association, Elections Committee Chair Carol Ludwig confirmed the winners of the 2022 election, which concluded on Aug. 10.
“On Aug. 11 we reported the results of the balloting …,” she said. “Those candidates receiving the higher number of votes are elected to three-year terms. And they are Steve Jacobs, Stuart Lakernick and Monica Rakowski.”
The annual meeting also provided OPA officials an opportunity to present reports on the status of the association. In his report, Jeremy Tucker, the association’s legal counsel, noted the many initiatives completed in the past year, including the implementation of electronic voting and the passage of 27 bylaw amendments.
“It’s been an extremely productive year,” he said.
Tucker noted his law firm was also able to work with the association to collect $74,000 in unpaid assessments.
“The total we’ve collected since hired to do the collection work is $929,737.28,” he said. “That’s a wonderful number, but it also means that’s how big the delinquency had gotten.”
Chris Hall of UHY, LLP also presented community members with the auditor’s report for fiscal year 2022. He noted that the 39-page document highlighted the association’s strong financial footing.
“It is our opinion the financial statements referred to present fairly in all material respects,” he said. “That’s a clean, unmodified opinion. That is the highest level of assurance any accounting can give on a financial statement.”
In a presentation of the association’s financials, General Manager John Viola noted the association concluded fiscal year 2022 with a favorability of $1,912,712.
“A lot of that came from organic revenue growth,” he said.
Finance Director Steve Phillips said the association had come a long way since 2018, when the association had accumulated a deficit of roughly $1.6 million. As of May 1, OPA reported an accumulated operating fund balance of $2,047,703, with plans to transfer $500,000 for mailbox pedestals, pickleball court repairs and roads reserve.
“That’s potential recommendations to come,” Phillips added. “And you see we would still have a pretty sizable balance, about $1.5 million left after that.”
In his report to members, Viola noted the association had implemented several changes in recent years, all of which resulted in revenue growth and a $100 assessment decrease in 2022. He pointed out that Ocean Pines outsourced its food and beverage operations, jumpstarted roads and bulkheads programs and completed beautification efforts, to name a few initiatives.
“In 2019, with the support of a constructive board, the association and a very strong management team, we started to achieve a lot of positive results,” he said. “We started a lot of programs, and initiatives were implemented. It wasn’t just about financial numbers, but everything that we did that culminated into the financial numbers we get to present every year.”
In her president’s report, Horn recognized Viola’s leadership, as well as the many efforts made by the board in the last year. In addition to the bylaw revisions, she noted that the board had also agreed to present changes to its declaration of restrictions.
“We received the message loud and clear from the membership that they had concerns about the impact of short-term rentals on quality of life in our various sections,” she said. “So this revision to the declaration of restrictions will be rolled out sometime in September.”
Horn also acknowledged the implementation of hybrid board meetings, which she said has improved membership participation.
“The really good news I believe is that the hybrid model is yielding very good turnout overall at meetings,” she said.
This year’s annual meeting also included the presentation of the Sam Wilkinson Award, which recognizes volunteer efforts for Ocean Pines Recreation and Parks programs. This year, the association recognized Ralph Chinn for his contributions to the community as a member of the local Kiwanis Club and a volunteer for numerous programs.
“Unfortunately, Mr. Chinn is not able to be here because he passed suddenly …,” said Recreation and Parks Director Debbie Donahue. “So we went ahead and decided that even though he couldn’t be with us, we were going to go ahead and give it to him.”