OCEAN PINES – A review of the association’s proposed spending plan highlighted a recent meeting of the Ocean Pines board.
Last Thursday, the Ocean Pines Association (OPA) Board of Directors met with association staff to review the proposed budget for fiscal year 2024-2025. General Manager John Viola said the spending plan was created using input from all department heads.
“This budget is bottom up,” he said, “everything per our scrolls and governing documents.”
As proposed, the coming year’s budget totals $18,567,189. The spending plan includes total revenues and operating expenses of $15,313,061, bulkhead replacement expenses of $1,177,212 and capital expenditures of $2,076,916. It also features a $36 assessment reduction for non-waterfront lots.
“We have an $850 assessment,” said Finance Director Steve Phillips.
Under the bulkheads budget, Viola noted the $1.17 million would finance roughly 2,100 linear feet of bulkhead repairs in the coming fiscal year. When asked about emergency repairs, Viola said the account included a reserve fund. He noted the association had to fund emergency repairs the last two years.
“We’ve had emergency work, but because everything is strategeically planned and reviewed and dated … the ones we usually have emergencies on are scheduled to be done the next year,” he explained.
The board last week also reviewed the marina’s budget for the coming fiscal year. Dockmaster Ron Fisher said plan included a 15% increase in slip rates.
“If you look at operating costs, there’s been a substantial increase in operating costs, particularly in salaries, contracted services, credit cards. Fees have gone up substantially, and insurance costs have gone up substantially,” he said. “I did a survey of our competing marinas and found we’re substantially below those marinas in terms of our slip fees. So I’m recommending a 15% increase.”
While she acknowledged the increase, Director Elaine Brady noted that the marina’s net operating had declined in recent years.
“I know a 15% jump, when we are operating pretty efficiently, seems like a big jump,” she said. “But when you look at the net operating over the years, we’re actually getting a lesser return even with that 15% bump just because of the cost.”
Several other departments, including recreation and parks, racquet sports and aquatics, presented budget reviews last Thursday. OPA’s Linda Martin told board members the aquatics department was looking to bring back the snack bar at the Swim and Racquet Club.
“We do not expect the snack bar to be a revenue-driven item,” she said. “It will be less than $10,000. It was just a bold move from the aquatics manager – soon to be aquatics director. She just thought it was something to enhance the customer experience that we put in the strategic plan.”
Highlighting growing expenses in the aquatics department, Director Steve Jacobs asked about raises in daily aquatics fees. Viola said the association was not yet in a position to do so.
“It’s all about balance,” he replied. “We have to decide when to pay the piper. When we start cutting costs to pay for things, that’s a flag to me …We haven’t done that, and I’m not going to do that unless instructed.”
Ocean Pines Police Chief Tim Robinson also presented his budget for the coming year. He told board members his budget would fund a Lexipol subscription, a new property custodian position and salary increases, among other things.
“The biggest thing I have taken into consideration is how we are compensating the officers and the civilian staff here to make us competitive in the marketplace,” he said. “With the support of the general manager and the board, we are going to be doing just that in this fiscal year coming up, which will put us in the ballpark with everyone else.”
At the conclusion of last week’s meeting, Association President Rick Farr said the board would follow up on questions before the budget is adopted in February. Viola told board members the association would also schedule a town hall meeting before that time.