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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


A better way to look at community’s budget

The goal of any government or homeowner’s association is to give the public the kind of community it wants at a cost it is willing to pay.
Establishing the cost factor is the easier of the two to accomplish, because it’s just math, aided by a good read of the public’s mood.
Much more difficult is defining what members of any community really want, because many people don’t think beyond their tax or assessment bills.
As a result, budget discussions all too often turn to this or that department, operation, division or amenity losing money. That’s not how it should work.
Accepting that reasonable limits have to be set and that blatant waste and over-spending is both irresponsible and dangerous, some so-called losses must be absorbed to give people the kind of community they desire.
There is the Ocean Pines golf course, for instance, which has lost a great deal of money in the past few years, but now appears to be on the upswing financially. The first question to ask is not whether the course should be profitable, but whether having a golf course at all makes Ocean Pines a better place to live. Does it help with property values or home re-sales?
The same can be said for the Yacht Club. Regardless of whether a person uses it, does having it make Ocean Pines overall more attractive as a community?
We think the answer in both cases is yes and that it isn’t absolutely essential that they turn a profit some day. It would be great if they did, sure, but not necessarily vital.
It’s like asking if Ocean City would be better off without Northside Park, or the Ocean City Center for the Arts, or even the new performing arts center.
In considering budgets, people need to look beyond their portion of the price tag and consider the whole package and all its intangibles. The critical question isn’t whether something loses money, but whether its makes a community a good place to live.