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OP committee looks to amenity membership

October finances from OP Budget and Finance maintain better-than-budget pace recorded throughout year

The Ocean Pines Budget and Finance Committee is looking at ways to increase membership at its amenities, such as the Racquet Center. JACK CHAVEZ/BAYSIDE GAZETTE

By Jack Chavez, Staff Writer

(Dec. 15, 2022) The Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Department is looking to pursue the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant that FEMA offers.

General Manager John Viola indicated that the fire department will need to hire a grant writer to pursue it.

“This will be for additional staff in the upcoming budget cycle,” Budget and Finance Committee chair Dick Keiling said.

“The department added positions last year and this year they’re looking to add fire staff. This grant could help provide funds for staffing for three years. It is a fairly competitive grant but (our committee) and the GM support pursuing it.”

The department is expected to present the grant idea during the Ocean Pines Board of Directors regular meeting on Saturday.

Viola then talked about the proposed biking and walking trail, with praise given to the thoroughness of Patti Stevens’s presentation to the board last month.

It’s a complex process that involves state, county and Ocean Pines funding, Viola said, and he was not sure whether the association have enough answers to work with by the time budget review occurs in January.

The committee expects progress, at least, to be updated by that time, Keiling said.

“Detailed presentations on what we need have to happen; (we must determine) what costs there are to pursuing these initiatives,” Keiling said. “We really like what we’ve heard and think these are good ideas to pursue for this community.”

The committee also discussed some of the guidance that the Strategic Planning Committee has provided for progress in 2023.

One of the biggest points is setting the association’s sights on increasing amenity membership.

“The question there was really with the inflationary increase in labor and materials — how does that translate to fees for amenities?” Keiling said. “(Our committee) was saying we should be looking at amenities as we have done in the past. The revenues we get from increases in memberships. Pickleball (for example last year grew 33 percent. Membership grows as revenue grows. (We must look at) fees for amenities and what’s happening in other communities. How are they handling these issues? All that enters into the equation. (Our committee) is indicating that we should be concerned and careful on what we might do with increasing amenity memberships.”

The October financial statement was ready for discussion, too.

Keiling reported another favorable month in an overall favorable year. The month’s operating variance was favorable at $77,000, which represents revenues reported at plus-$52,000 and expenses coming in under, by $25,000.

The year-to-date variance is favorable at $824,000.

Total expenses are $27,000 over budget, but Keiling pointed out that in a community the size of Ocean Pines, that dollar figure, which represents a 0.4 percent increase, is inconsequential.

For now, the Budget and Finance Committee is scheduled to meet again on Dec. 28. It will dive into next year’s budget season in January.