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Board gives GM mandate on amenity policy

(March 5, 2015) The resolution governing Ocean Pines’ amenity policies, including who must pay for what, could become clearer in the next 60 days when the OPA board of directors follows up on a motion that was tabled on Saturday.
Hoping to correct a perceived wrong, OPA Board Vice President Marty Clarke moved to refund all fees charged to Star Charities for its use of the community center during a “beef and beer” fundraiser on Jan. 9.
It was an uphill fight from the start.
“For the last couple of years, we sat here at budget time and we both agreed there are things that have to be paid for and we can’t give the place free to everybody,” Director Bill Cordwell said. “Are you talking just this one charity, or all we giving all charities [facilities] for free, because then I guess we would have to revise the budget?”
Clarke argued that the board had erred in not setting fee structure under the resolution.
“There has been no fee structure given to this board to approve or not approve since I have been on this board a second time. Ever,” he said.
The subject, President Dave Stevens argued, is larger than fees.
“There are also issues of how these amenities are used and what we want to do,” Stevens said. “My indication right now is this is not the right way to do this, but … we don’t have any rules or guidance right now. I think if we can move toward that direction by doing this … on terms of this one, I’m inclined to vote yes.”
Parliamentarian Tom Terry warned of opening a “Pandora’s box” and suggested the board table the motion until the board could formally set a policy governing “what groups do and do not get to use our facilities.”
“There are a lot of nonprofits out there that are ‘in quotes’ nonprofits,” Terry said. “They tend to be not like the organization that is up for discussion right now. I really don’t think the board wants to get into a situation where a board member has to make a motion to get a refund every time someone who is a nonprofit [has to pay a fee].
“If we vote to give this money back … we’re going to open the door for virtually everybody who’s planning on anything to come in and ask for a refund,” Terry continued. “I would propose we table this motion until said policy and pricing model can be presented to the board for us to vote on it.”
Stevens said the board was waiting on input from the general manager.
“We have been waiting and we still don’t have it,” he said. “This is a longstanding issue. Something has to get to the board or the board itself has to sit down and develop policies.
“I think what Marty is saying is that there are real people that have real issues and real problems and they’re waiting for us to come up with this policy,” Stevens continued. “[Star Charities head] Anna [Foultz] and her group is one real person that has been impacted by not having this policy and Marty wants to rectify that through a … straight refund of the fee.”
Steven agreed with Terry that the board needed to set a permanent policy, while Thompson argued that a set fee structure was already in place.
“The policy we’re using has been the policy that’s in place since I’ve been here,” he said. “We have not made modifications up or down. We’ve just accepted it as it is.”
Thompson said he was examining the policy, but that, “we’re not ready to make any recommendations to change or modify the existing policy that’s been in place. We’re operating under something that’s already there.”
“If the board decides to take action and refund this … that changes direction of what we have published and what we’re using,” Thompson said. “What you’re asking is to change direction on something we’re following on what’s published now.”
Clarke read from resolution, which states “The General Manager, with the approval of the board, shall establish annually a schedule of fees or fee-based amenities as part of the annual budget process. The board shall review the recommended fee structures and approve them in the annual budget.”  
“Has anybody ever been presented and approved any fee structure?” Clarke asked.
Stevens suggested that the board could make exceptions to a policy without changing it.
“If the next one comes up … we can also not make an exception,” Stevens said. “I would suggest that this motion [makes] an exception to this policy and we refund 150 bucks with the understanding that, as Tom said, we have to proceed. We really do. Since this is affecting people right now, we really need to work towards getting that policy revised.”
Clarke said several groups in Ocean Pines were seeking outside venues due to the lack of consistent standards governing nonprofits. He cited a section in the resolution governing “General-Use Amenities,” that says certain facilities may be used by “association-sponsored groups and approved clubs” at no charge, including the community center used by Star Charities.
Thompson countered that the definition of approved clubs and groups was hazy, and that he and a committee were “taking our time crafting language that addresses the ‘I don’t knows.’”
The board voted 5-2 to table the motion after Thompson suggested he could have a formal policy to present within 60 days.