Ocean Pines Plans Town Hall Meeting For Budget Review

OCEAN PINES – A town hall meeting will allow association members to learn more about the coming year’s budget.

During a board meeting last Saturday, General Manager John Viola announced plans to hold a town hall meeting on the fiscal year 2024-2025 budget. He said the coming year’s recommended spending plan will feature changes made by the board following a recent budget review.

“We did receive the changes from the board just the other day, and we are already working on them,” he explained. “We’re pretty much done on it. So we are scheduling a town hall for review and discussion, which we do every year.”

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.

“If you look at this budget, the recommended assessment is $850,” Viola said. “It has board approval at this point, that’s the recommendation. It’s a lower assessment obviously from last year.”

As part of the budget process, Viola said association members will have an opportunity to attend a town hall meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 7, at 11 a.m. at the clubhouse meeting room. He said association staff will be present to review and discuss the spending plan.

“We’ll go over the whole budget, answer questions, whatever,” he said.

Viola noted that while assessments have decreased, the budget features a maintenance plan for bulkheads, roads and drainage, and proposes increases in both spending and reserves.

“We’re increasing our reserves which is a good thing on the balance sheet to many and making the balance sheet stronger,” he said. “So when we budget we’re also looking at the balance sheet. We’re also looking at the next several years. I want to make sure we can stay on track for the next three, four, five years. I’m sure the board would like hearing that.”

During the public comment portion of last Saturday’s meeting, Ocean Pines resident Mike Daley said he wanted the association to reconsider the use of a debit card for swimming pools. He questioned if it could be incorporated into the budget process.

“While we’re on the subject of the budget I would just like to bring up that maybe you could look into bringing back a debit card for the swimming pools,” he said. “I know that it’s gone by the wayside, but a lot of people that I talked to liked having that debit card for the swimming pools. An idea that you could take into consideration would even be to make the debit card run with the fiscal year, from May 1 to April 30.”

Viola said that was an ongoing discussion with Northstar, which supplies the association’s financial software.

“We are looking at it with Northstar,” he said. “The one we had before went on forever and that was a major problem from an accounting standpoint.”

Viola noted, however, that he liked the idea of aligning the debit cards with the fiscal year.

“We’re trying to see what we can do,” he said, “but it has to have the parameters like you 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.