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For Pete Gomsak, assistant treasurer familiar position

(Aug. 27, 2015) Although it may have raised a few eyebrows when the board of directors voted 4-3 to select Pete Gomsak as the assistant treasurer – the second, along with General Manager Bob Thompson – it’s a role the former director has held before.
Gomsak, 73, served on the board from 2010-2012, then served as assistant treasurer, under then board president Tom Terry, in 2013 and 2014.
He also has nearly a decade of experience in and around Ocean Pines finance.
A self-described “Baltimorean,” Gomsak graduated from Loyola in 1964 and almost immediately landed a job at a major CPA firm.
“I told people I graduated on Sunday [and] started working Monday morning,” Gomsak said.
Gomsak quickly climbed the corporate ladder, becoming the firm’s youngest partner, at 31, in the U.S. He later moved with the company to Hartford, Conn. and Cincinnati, Ohio, before retiring to Ocean Pines in 2001.
“Obviously, Cincinnati was not home, and all of our six children had left not only Cincinnati, but Ohio, and two of them had ended up in Baltimore,” he said. “So as we looked for a place to retire we wanted to go back to our home state of Maryland. And we always loved the ocean.”
Bill Rakow, who became a friend after building Gomsak’s home, was elected to the board in 2007 along with Dave Stevens, Marty Clarke and Les Purcell. During his second term, he recruited Gomsak in an advisory capacity.
“He said, ‘Pete, we really need someone with your talent and background to serve on the budget and finance committee,’” Gomsak said. “I was happy to do that and, in the course of that process, I began to realize that I had a little more experience than most of the people. I contributed, I believe.”
During that time the two friends had an informal meeting at Gomsak’s home.
“I’ll never forget this. We sat down at my house and he said, ‘Pete, we have a problem. We are running out of reserve money and we have some major facilities and projects that need to be done in the next two years. We’ve got to figure out a way to handle that,’” Gomsak said.
At the time, the total replacement reserve fund was under $2 million, according to Gomsak. The previous board, in 2006, voted 7-0 to raise assessments $150 in order to address several of the original “wooden structures” built during the community’s infancy that were rapidly deteriorating, including the old yacht club, country club and bridges.
Gomsak, with the endorsement of the budget and finance committee, came up with several scenarios and presented them to the board shortly after.
“Essentially, I outlined for them three alternatives,” Gomsak said. “One, you can borrow money. Two, you can have special assessments as you need big bucks, or three you can put into place a mechanism that recognizes what it is you need in capital dollars over the next period of time, and then raise the dues to accommodate that.”
The latter concept became what’s now known as the “five-year” funding plan.
Ironically, Gomsak credits Dave Stevens, who recently spoke out against Gomsak’s appointment as assistant treasurer, with coming up the phased-in approach that gave the five-year plan its name.
“Politically astute [and] given the fact that we just had a year previously a $150 increase [in assessments] Dave suggest we spread the amount needed over time, not with just one fell swoop,” Gomsak said. “I’m down at the end of the table in the conference room as the board is going on doing calculations, and I came up with $30.”
The board adopted the policy, and assessments were raised $30 each year for five years, until the increase was fully funded.
While the concept seems dubious to some today, largely because of its name, Gomsak said the funding mechanism was never meant to go away after five years.
He also insisted the measure be kept separate during the budgeting process.
“The reason for that was transparency, so that the membership could track exactly the dollars going into that fund and coming out of that fund,” Gomsak said. “Once you mix it up with all the depreciation dollars and all the normal stuff – the police cars and computers and chairs and umbrellas for the pool – you lose sight of that. We clearly designated and differentiated that source of funding.”
In the meantime, Gomsak also began working with others on the “10-Year Major Facilities Planning Task Force.” Rakow and Ted Moroney, who is currently working on the capital improvement plan with Facilities Manager Jerry Aveta, were also on the task force, appointed by then General Manager Tom Olson. Stevens was also later appointed.
A year later, Gomsak ran for the board, finishing first in a pool of four candidates. Bob Thompson, now the general manager of Ocean Pines, was also elected after finishing second.  
Gomsak served as treasurer during each of his three years on the board, then served as assistant treasurer during the next two years away from the board.
This year, he said “certain directors” approached him “well before the election” about serving as assistant treasurer again.
At the organizational meeting on Aug. 17, he strolled into the boardroom with terrific comedic timing after Director Bill Cordwell nominated him. Terry spoke on his behalf, while Stevens openly objected.
He also pointed out that the community bylaws allow for “one or more assistant treasurers” and said the distinction of title is important because it confers status as an officer position within the organization.
“That’s not an ego thing,” he said. “I deal, with my capacity in that sense, with outside professionals. If I’m representing Ocean Pines in meetings or discussions, that’s different than a volunteer or Bob Thompson asking you to get involved. I think it does make a difference.”
Gomsak underscored the fact that he will not have a day-to-day role within the organization, nor will he have anything close to a vote on the board.
“I’m not a director,” he said. “I can’t vote on anything, nor do I want to. I have no interest in being a director. I do have an interest in helping out. I don’t have an agenda – I never had an agenda other than to help Ocean Pines.
“I have a lot of experience, I’m in relatively good health and I feel a sense of obligation to give back to community,” Gomsak continued. “It’s that simple.”
He also said he will not have a role in drafting the budget.
“That’s not the proper role of the treasurer or the assistant treasurer,” he said. “[Thompson] will consult with me, and at the end of the process he has always asked me to take a look big-picture wise and give him some input. But I believe some people believe I am working hand-in-hand with Bob doing the budget. It’s the general manager’s budget, as it should be.”
Today, Gomsak still finds himself defending – and explaining – the five-year plan.
“Had we not had it, we would have had to borrow it to do the yacht club,” he said. “We’d be borrowing right now for everything we have to do.
“We still have a lot to do and, hopefully, with this newly elected board progress can be made,” Gomsak continued. “I have confidence that it will. In my opinion, the number one priority is to get moving on dealing with the major needs that we have in this community.”