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Pines Budget and Finance Committee gives BOD guidance

(Sept. 24, 2015) Although work on the fiscal year 2017 budget will not formally get under way until October, the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors held a special meeting on Sept. 16 to hear budget guidance recommendations from one of its advisory committees.
During the meeting, Budget and Finance Committee Chair Patricia Supik presented the board with a list of six recommendations drafted by the group.
In perhaps the most controversial request of the morning, the committee recommended that the board establish a membership fee specifically for nonmembers who use Ocean Pines services, especially those available through the parks and recreation department.
Committee member John Trumpower said the suggestion was meant to offset some $600,000 in parks and recreation expenses.
Most agreed the potential new fee would not restrict outsiders from attending free events in Ocean Pines, including the concerts in the park series, but a flat, annual fee could be enacted on top of other fees for classes and activities.
Several board members, including Tom Herrick, suggested the board raise fees for nonmembers before considering an across-the-board nonmember fee.
The committee requested a full-time equivalent expense review, using government statistics for comparison’s sake, suggesting a study could benefit future salary structures within the association.
General Manager Bob Thompson noted that the association lost two police officers to outside municipalities during the previous 18 months, while at least one director suggested lower compensation in Ocean Pines was the key culprit behind the departures.
Human resources and information technology, two positions that have been in the budget for a number of years, but never filled, were recommended to be hired using either actual staff or a consulting firm.
Contract consolidation with outside vendors was discussed, using Coca Cola machines as a working example.
Supik said the committee asked for a “top-down” budget presentation, which would include major budget changes with comparisons from prior budgets included. The presentation would also include details on assessment impact, as well as “justifications” for increases or decreases of 15 percent or $50,000 on any line item.
The committee requested that the capital and operating budgets be kept separate, with each structured in a “rolling, multi-year” format that included items from previously approved budgets that had not been spent. They also recommended increasing the capital threshold from $1,000 to $2,000.
Director Tom Terry said, at present, the board did not have a specific approved way to handle carryover items.
“There is no mechanism for the dollars to be grandfathered,” he said. “[If] we’ve already passed the budget for the next fiscal, you end up with [the perception that] you’re spending money that’s out of budget when in fact it was in budget.
“[Thompson] needs this mechanism so that we don’t end up in these arguments over money being spent ‘over of budget,’ when in fact it was in a budget at one point,” Terry added.
Terry, the board treasurer, said he would draft a new set of guidelines, using the discussion during the meeting, that would be used as an internal document for the board and the budget and Finance Committee.