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Ocean Pines GM report for March positive

Ocean Pines General Manager John Viola

By Cindy Hoffman, Staff Reporter

(March 23, 2023) General Manager John Viola provided updates on various efforts around Ocean Pines during Saturday’s Board of Directors meeting.

He noted that the Police Department is still aggressively looking to fill five to six positions. The department has  begun using a written and physical test before cadets go into the academy in hopes that they will be better prepared.

During the last board meeting, resident Jack Lemring spoke about issues with the dog park. That triggered work including a new cabinet for tools, an upgraded walkway and mulch.  Viola also noted that agility equipment has been ordered and is expected soon. Lemring thanked Viola and his team during public comments for the quick and good work and suggested there might be a need for handicapped access to the dog park.

The Racquet Club is getting a significant amount of attention, including repairs and painting; landscaping, and a shed cleaned out for equipment.  A shade structure is being built and will be installed in April. This Spring, the resurfacing of the Har Tru tennis courts to address the cracks will be done. Viola met with the team on March 14 to prepare preliminary sketches for a new building and warming hut. He hopes to have design sketches by September, so that it can be considered for next year’s budget.

At the marina, gas lines and fuel dispensers are being replaced. The marina fuel C Dock will be installed prior to May 1.

“We will have a top-notch marina dock when we are done,” Viola said.

Safety AEDs have been installed outside of the racquet center and will be unlocked by staff every day. An AED has been ordered for the Police Station. AED training scheduled for OP staff starting in March.

The leaf program in Ocean Pines will change this fiscal year. Linda Martin, senior executive office manager reported that the association will no longer be vacuuming the leaves out of the ditches with the vacuum truck.

Homeowners will now be responsible for bagging up those leaves. The association will continue to pick up bagged leaves in November and December, which complements efforts by Republic.

The yard will be open for yard debris drop off in the fall and spring.  To obtain a yard waste sticker, contact 410-641-7425. The sticker will be free the first year. Residents can also call public works prior to dropping off debris on an as needed basis.

As for the future use of the vacuum truck, it will be put to work on drainage ditch maintenance only.

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Board member Monica Rakowski delivered the Treasurer’s Report. As of Feb. 28, the association had approximately $13 million in cash. Cash increased $700,000 from the same time period last year.  Cash decreased $900,000 from January 2023.   Altogether, $11.1 million is invested in CDARs. The remaining $1.9 million is invested in insured cash sweep, money market and other operating accounts.

She noted that with interest rates continuing to increase in the marketplace, there will continue to be an upward trend of interest income realized within the reserve accounts in the coming months.

Viola reported a February positive net of $34,000 with a year-to-date net of $1.1 million. Ninety percent of the revenues are generated by amenities, driven by golf and food and beverage. Based on the unaudited reserve report, the association has a $7.6 million balance at the end of February.  The forecast for the end of the fiscal year is a $6.6 million balance.

Viola met with bankers due to the recent banking crisis in the national news.

“I assure everybody that we have met with our bankers. They were in the GM’s office first thing Monday morning,” he said. “And everything is secured.”

Viola said association dollars are safely invested in CDARs that are FDIC insured by the federal government.

“We deal with the Bank of Ocean City. And the Bank of Ocean City takes everything that we have invested there in CDARs.  That money is in probably 20-30 banks.”

“We are also opening another bank account with another bank, and we are transferring some money there, working with the Bank of Ocean City so that we have money in another place, as we cover operations throughout [the year].”

They are looking at investing money in treasury bills as well.

Resident Richard Malone spoke during the public comment period about a property near his home that has multiple broken-down vehicles including two motorcycles, a propped-up golf cart and a broken-down car on Nottingham Lane. He has brought this up in the past, but it continues to be an issue and has been for years.

Horn said the Architectural Committee has been asking the board to restrict property owners’ rights for violators. The board has agreed to do that. The individual would not be able to vote or enjoy the amenities. “Most of the sections that have violations do not have fining authority.” There is a current effort to expand fining authority to all sections.

Malone suggested that violators be publicly listed in the weekly Ocean Pines publication. “Maybe the embarrassment of that would be enough to move things forward.”

Members of the board thought that would be a good idea and Viola said they will start to do that.

Resident Laura Pangratz, who is a member of the Bylaws and Resolutions Committee, suggested that the timeframe for keeping committee meeting videos be expanded. She said it can take more than two months to get a topic before the directors meeting and it is helpful to have the ability to refer back to video of past meetings.

Other business included the review of various resolutions.

The board voted to revise Resolution B-07, which states that a person making a presentation on behalf of petitioners must be a member eligible to vote on the petition.

The board voted in favor of Resolution F-03 to establish a separate reserve account to aid in funding future expenditures for drainage in Ocean Pines.

The board voted in favor of revisions to Resolution M-05 to allow Ocean Pines Police to enforce animal control issues if Worcester County Animal Control is unable to take custody of an animal and collect fees for impoundment.

The board also approved a pension plan for the Ocean Pines Police Department to make it more competitive.  It will add an employer match with a six-year vesting schedule. Viola said this would cost about $175,000 a year. The plan is comparable with the Law Enforcement Officers Pension Plan.

Viola asked for a transfer from realized retained earnings to cover the costs for the budget year starting May 2023.

The board reviewed various appointments to advisory committees.  They approved the following appointments: Patricia Benner for a second term with the Environmental and Natural Assets Committee; Angela Hunter for a first term on the Racquet Sports Committee; Helen Johnson for a second term on the Strategic Planning Committee; Gary Miller as Chair of the Aquatics Committee and Susan Morris for a second term on the Golf Committee.