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OP Budget Cmte. talks staffing, maintenance

By Greg Ellison

(April 28, 2022) Staffing challenges and maintenance needs were examined by the Ocean Pines Budget and Finance Committee Monday.

Finance Director Steve Phillips opened the session with an overview of operating account balances through March, with FY21-22 set to close next month.

Phillips noted revenues had outpaced expenses by about $1.7 million, with roughly $1.3 million tied to amenities.

Phillips noted that amenities we are posting positive bottom lines despite some reductions to revenues.

“Recreation and Parks is down on revenues but also significantly down on the expenditure side,” he said.

Limited program offerings based on previous health-restrictions cut both incoming fees and wages.

To close March, Recreation and Parks is $83,800 better than budget year-to-date.

The bulk of the remaining budget favorability is from Public Works, which Phillips estimated at $350,000.

“In Public Works, some is favorability tied to vacant positions and deferred maintenance not spent to date,” he said.

Committee members wondered if unused maintenance funds might flow into the next budget year.

General Manager John Viola said while upkeep of association assets is well accounted for, future unknowns always loom.

“All I need is one situation and it’s $100,000 or $200,000 to correct,” he said.

Overall, Viola expressed confidence that association facilities are in better condition than in past decades.

Despite delays, previous plans to perform interior renovations on the Administrative Building in White Horse Park are still in the works.

“We currently don’t have the manpower or time,” he said. “We have approval from the board and are hoping to do that.”

Viola highlighted other deferred maintenance projects, such as repairing the cracked surface at the Ocean Pines Racquet Center at a cost of at least $50,000.

In general, Viola said maintenance needs were being addressed.

“There’s nothing on the table right now that needs to be done that we aren’t doing,” he said.

Unfilled positions in Public Works, and other areas, have also contributed to the positive cash flow.

“We have had a hard time filling positions the last two to three years,” he said.

To making attracting candidates easier, Viola has asked the board about offering pay above mandated minimums.

“Minimum wage plus is the only way I’m going to be able to get people,” he said.

Market competition for staffing has increased drastically in recent years, Viola said.

In some cases, such as hiring lifeguards, Viola said Ocean Pines faces challenges shared elsewhere.

“We can’t get them and other places also can’t,” he said.

Committee member George Solyak asked if consideration was given to sweetening the pot at hiring time.

“Have you looked at any sign-on bonuses,” he said.

Viola said some efforts have been attempted.

“Within the guidelines of the budget,” he said.

Viola proposed asking committee members for their ideas on how to surmount staffing challenges.

The next Ocean Pines Budget and Finance Committee meeting is scheduled on May 23 at 9 a.m.