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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


OPA Tightens Up

OCEAN PINES — Over the last half-decade at least, the meeting procedures of the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors meetings have waxed and waned from a rigid format to close to free form. With the institution this month of a focused goals and objectives document, board President Tom Terry hopes to find the middle ground between obsessing over order to and a conversational free-for-all.

Several years ago, the board of directors reacted to the propensity of members to shout out motions during the meeting by banning the practice. For a time, it was out of order to present a motion that had not been submitted before the meeting minutes were prepared. While it did focus more attention on the production of a motion, it was also prevented relevant motions from seeing the light of day for more than a month.

The board of directors for several years also had a pending action list (PAL) that was reviewed monthly to keep the various projects and issues the board wanted to keep under review on the radar. Last year, the board got away from using the PAL.

In addition, the annual goals and objectives document tended to turn into a long wish list that faded into the background not too long after it was passed and established.

None of this was the fault of any particular board or member, but was because the attention given to both long-term and short-term projects came at the expense of adherence to the stated goals and objectives.

In the second year of his presidency, Terry reviewed his own performance last year and sought to find a way to be a more efficient leader and director. His first concern was sorting out the procedures that would guide both the agenda construction and the way that the meetings played out in practice.

The aim is to increase efficiency by narrowing the board of directors’ focus to a limited number of issues beyond whatever the problem of the month happens to be.

“We got a lot of things done last year,” Terry said. “But I just felt there were things we could be better at focusing on.”

While he said there weren’t any significant goals or objections that were completely forgotten, he said that the change of management, coupled with the continued development of the facilities plan and the debate over outsourcing overshadowed some of the processes that help keep the board on track.

Terry said he thought that making the goals and objectives narrower would help the board stay on point as the year continues.

This required having all the members prioritize the goals and objectives and vote for the top four to be given the highest priority. Although he stressed that this didn’t mean the other items on the list were non-issues, the board’s recognition that there were just a few items to be considered makes the tasks ahead not only less daunting but also gives members cause to believe that they will be more seriously addressed.

This seriousness, he expects, will have the desired effect on other projects, such as the PAL and the appropriate raising of motions to be considered. 

Regular review of the PAL was among the priorities that gave way to what were seen at the time as more pressing issues. Last year’s board didn’t refuse to review it or decide that it wasn’t worth the effort so much as they let the practice slip away as the items on it became more of the “ongoing” variety.

By bringing it back into prominence, Terry said, the board expects to use it as a tool to help keep them on track rather than a chore to be undertaken.

On the other hand, the procedures for making a motion won’t be so much tied to specific policy and rules as governed by practice. While the goal is to get directors to present motions in detail and in advance, motions that haven’t been presented before the agenda’s construction will still be accepted. The twist is that Terry will require they be written for review rather than just spoken.

The aim is increased efficiency in that all board members will have an opportunity to review the words a motion contains without the inflection the promulgator implies. Similarly, the person who believes the motion is worth making will have to narrow their thoughts and intentions to the printed word.

“If there is a theme here, Terry said. “It is this: ‘Let’s tighten it up.”