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‘Nonmember’ fee discussed during OPA Board meeting

(Sept. 24, 2015) The idea of a “nonmember” fee was introduced during an Ocean Pines Association budget guidance meeting on Sept. 16.
Budget and Finance Chair Patricia Supik floated the idea on behalf of the committee, saying the proposed fee was intended to “decrease the net subsidy for parks and recreation.”
The existing fee structure would remain the same, she said.
“This would be for summer camps – whatever activities that we offer to the community at large, as well as residents,” she said. “We charge a differential to nonresidents now for the particular activity [and] the discussion surrounded around some kind of a membership fee for nonresidents. That would add just another layer of income over and above individual activity fees.”
The proposal will likely be a part of the overall budget guidance resolution introduced during a board meeting on Thursday.
Board President Pat Renaud said he thought the idea was “all right.”
“Right now, we do have a nonmembership rate, so we should be charging an extra amount of money. However, they’re just coming in off the street and they’re nonmembers and they want to use [for example] the pool,” he said. “We’re asking for, because it’s not fair to the members, for a one-time fee.”
Renaud said some residents pay hundreds of dollars annually for amenity memberships, while outsiders can pay as little as a few dollars for one-time use of an amenity.
“If you only have to pay, say $6, they can come in for quite a few times before they even come close to matching what we’d paid for it,” he said. “Charging a one-time fee would say, ‘well fine, we’d like to have you come in. There’s no problem in using it, but we’re going to have to try to do this to make sure our budget meets expenses.’ That was the reason for it.”
As he understood it, Director Dave Stevens said the fee would specifically target activities at the Community Center.
“It’s not applying across the board,” he said. “Golf already has associate memberships – so does racquet sports, so does aquatics – and there are fee differentials for the rest [of amenities], so I’m not quite sure they really thought out what it would do for us.”
At least one director questioned the logic of a one-time fee, asking whether it would be better to instead raise the individual fee differentials between homeowners and nonmembers.
“I think that’s right,” Stevens said. “I don’t think [the nonmember fee] is going someplace.”
Renaud admitted he was unsure if the nonmember fee would pass, adding that at this point the board would not be voting on a final measure but would be approving the committee’s guidance to the general manager during the budget process.
“We haven’t gotten to that point yet, but that was one of the things that was suggested,” he said. “What we’re doing is empowering the Budget and Finance Committee to go ahead with doing the budget. It shouldn’t have any problem in passing it, but we’ve got some contrarian [board] members on there.”
Last year, Renaud said, the board did not discuss any budget guidance from the committee.
“I’m finding these things out as I’m going along and I’m totally shocked by some of the things we just didn’t do that we’re supposed to do,” Renaud said. “This was one of them.”