Ocean Pines Committee Begins Budget Review

OCEAN PINES – An Ocean Pines committee kicked off its annual review of the proposed 2023-2024 budget last week with presentations from various department heads.

Last Wednesday, General Manager John Viola presented members of the Ocean Pines Budget and Finance Committee with the coming year’s proposed spending plan, which reflects total revenues and operating expenses of $14.45 million, bulkhead replacement expenses of $1.15 million and capital expenditures of $1.02 million.

Included in this year’s budget, Viola said, is a $21 assessment reduction for non-waterfront lots.

“I want to point out it was not our intent to specifically lower the assessment,” he said. “It’s a bottoms-up calculation so when everything was calculated, quantified, that’s where it showed up. There is a true-up component where we are trying to reflect a realized favorability that we have had over the last couple of years.”

Viola told committee members last week the preliminary budget also features increases in payroll and benefits resulting from statutory wage increases and wage inflation. The spending plan also proposed price increases for amenities.

“The bottom line is with all the inflation and everything, the rates we had for the increases are lower than inflation,” he said.

The coming year’s budget also reflects an increase in infrastructure spending for roads, drainage, mailboxes, deferred maintenance and new capital projects and initiatives, Viola said. It also includes a 1% increase in the police 401k benefit contribution, salary adjustments for police officers and the continuation of the police department’s Take Home Car Program.

“We did include some adjustments for the police a couple months ago that are baked into this year’s numbers,” he said. “We will continue that this year, along with other increases.”

Committee members last week met with representatives from each of the association’s departments to review spending plans for the coming fiscal year. Chair Dick Keiling said the work sessions will allow committee members to review the budget and make recommendations.

“This is a first pass of the budget presented by staff …,” he explained. “We’re to ask questions and make recommendations. That’s the limitation of our role here, to ask questions, understand the budget and make recommendations we feel necessary to the board and the GM.”

The Ocean Pines Board of Directors will hold its annual budget review Jan. 18-19. The association’s fiscal year begins on May 1 of each year and ends on April 30 of the next calendar year.

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.