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January-Early February 2013

Vol. 8, No. 10

410-641-6029

www.oceanpinesprogress.com

Pines property values recede in reassessment

THE OCEAN PINES JOURNAL OF NEWS & COMMENTARY COVER STORY

Proposed OPA budget for 2014 calls for $43 assessment increase, 5 percent hike in amenity fees General Manager Bob Thompson’s proposed budget, compared to this year’s expected results, projects roughly $400,000 in additional spending year over year. By TOM STAUSS Publisher cean Pines Association General Manager Bob Thompson’s proposed budget for the new fiscal year beginning May 1 and continuing through April of 2014 calls for a $43 base assessment increase and a five percent increase in

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most amenity fees, those that haven’t seen any change in the past five years. Under the proposed budget, assessments would increase from $873 to $916. The draft budget, subject to change and final approval by the board of director in February, proposes a departmental budget of $9,667,408 in revenue and expenses, actually slightly less than the approved budget for the current fiscal year. Because both actual departmental spending and revenues are falling well short of budget in the

current fiscal year – the forecast is for an operational loss of $355,465, or $385,262 if new capital additions are included – Thompson’s proposed budget represents significant increases in spending and revenues over the latest current projections. The current year’s approved budget called for revenues of $9,696,342 in revenues and $9,623,793 in expenses, but the current forecast is for only $8,986,595 in revenue and $9,269,521 in expenditures, reflecting considerable shortfalls in golf operations and, to some extent, in Yacht Club food and beverage operations. Poor results in golf operations, with revenues not even close to original expectations, explain most of the predicted red ink for the current fiscal year, Thompson has said. Thompson’s proposed budget, compared to this year’s expected results, projects roughly $400,000 in additional spending year over year. If the board of directors is to make any cuts in what Thompson and his staff are proposing, it probably would come out of those proposed increases and the assessment dollars associated with them. The draft budget, made available to members of the board of directors in early January and the subject of a special board meeting Jan. 9, will be reviewed in detail by the budget and finance committee on Jan. 14 and 15 at the Country Club, beginning at 9 a.m. Meetings are open to the OPA membership. The board will follow suit on Jan. 24 and 25 at the Country Club beginning at 9 a.m. All of these meetings are open to the To Page 22

Property owners in Ocean Pines are among those in northern Worcester County who are once again seeing a drop in the assessed value of their lots. Worcester County experienced one of the largest decreases in Maryland, at 14.3 percent, in the assessed value of residential and commercial properties as part of a tri-annual reassessment by the state, according to state-wide assessment data released on Dec. 28, 2012. That 14.3 percent decline in values was recorded during the 2012 property reassessment, which included Ocean Pines and Berlin, and will be phased in over the next three years. /Page 3

Casper explains half million dollar loss in golf ops Executives from Billy Casper Golf, the management company hired more than two years ago to operate the Ocean Pines golf course, are trying to defend and explain a projected half million loss in golf operations this fiscal year while offering hope that the firm will be able to deliver on a significant turnaround in Fiscal Year 2014. The attempted defense and explanation occurred during a special meeting with the Ocean Pines Association’s board of directors held on Jan. 8 at the Ocean Pines Country Club. /Page 8

Finances, firearms likely to dominate General Assembly Worcester County’s representatives in the Maryland legislature headed back to work in Annapolis during the first week of January for the 2013 session of the General Assembly, which is expected to include debates about increasing spending, increasing the gas tax and gun control. Prior to the Jan. 9 start of the session, District 38B Delegates Michael McDermott and Norman Conway and District 38 Senator James Mathias attended a plethora of legislative preview events designed to give community members and business leaders an idea of what their elected officials will be working on during the next three months./Page 25


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OCEAN PINES

Pines property values recede in tri-annual state reassessment

Lower values should mean lower tax bills for property owners in 2013

By ROTA L. KNOTT Contributing Writer roperty owners in Ocean Pines are among those in northern Worcester County who are once again seeing a drop in the assessed value of their homes and lots. Worcester County experienced one of the largest decreases in Maryland, at 14.3 percent, in the assessed value of residential and commercial properties as part of a tri-annual reassessment by the state, according to state-wide assessment data released on Dec. 28, 2012. That 14.3 percent decline was recorded during the 2012 property reassessment, which included Ocean Pines and Berlin, and will be phased in over the next three years. By comparison, the 2011 reassessment, which included Ocean City, saw property assessments in the county drop by 17.4 percent. Among the 24 Maryland counties,

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January-Early February 2013 Ocean Pines PROGRESS



3

 by ΣMAINSTREET CONSULTING©, 11021 Nichola Published

11007 Manklin Meadows Ocean Pines, MD 21811 • 410-600-0434 Securities OfferedLane, through LPL Financial, LLC Member FINRA

© Copyright 2010 MainStreet Wealth Management, LLC All rig

MAINSTREET CONSULTING© LPL Independent Investor May 2011

Managing Cash Flow in Retirement: Careful Budgeting Is S Worcester County placed third with its decrease in its average annual reasSecurities Offered through LPL Financial, LLC Member FINRA/SIPC  by ΣMAINSTREET CONSULTING©, When Published 11021 Nicholas Lane # 5, Ocean Pines, Maryland 21811 410-600 retirement planning goes into reverse, shifting from accum sessments. It fell behind only Wicomico © Copyright 2010 MainStreet Wealth Management, LLC All rights Reserved Securities Offered through LPL Financial, LLC Member FINRA/SIPC flow becomes critical. County, which had a 17.4 percent de© Copyright 2010 MainStreet Wealth Management, LLC All rights Reserved crease and experienced the largest drop in the state, and Caroline County, with The ultimate goal for most retirees is making sure their assets la a 15.7 percent drop. The county’s drop in managing cash flow is more critical than ever. A typical Americ Independent Investor assessed values wasLPL significantly highmore years after retirement. Mayaverage 2011 of just er than the statewide 3.6 percent. Two counties, Howard and stretch IRA is a traditional IRAcome that into passes the account While many variables playfrom depending on your incom Montgomery, experienced increases in in Retirement: Managing Cash Flow Careful Budgeting Is Still the beneficiaries Key owner to one or moremoves younger atlive the timetheir of the planning that can help retirees within means an assessed property values, by 2.5 percent account owner's death. Since the younger beneficiary has a and expenses. and 4.1 percent respectively. When retirement planning goes into life reverse, shifting from accumulating assets to living offhe investment and other i longer expectancy than the original IRA owner, or she can More than 96.8 flow percent of allcritical. resibecomes "stretch" the life of the IRA by receiving smaller required minimum Tools for the Task dential properties and 90.8 percent of distributions (RMDs) each year over his or her life span. More monIf you are retired or about to retire, you will need to gather and o all commercial properties in Worcester ey canisthen remain in the IRA with theaspotential for continued taxThe ultimate goal for most retirees making sureoftheir assets last as managing long they live. And because of increasing monitoring and your cash flow in retirement. The lp County that were included in the 2012 deferred growth. managing cash flow is more critical than ever. A typical American electing to retire in his or her mid-60s may exp reassessment decreased in value. Statefinancial situation, as well as any significant changes you expec Employing the stretch technique by naming a younger benefimore years after retirement. wide 76.7 percent of residential propciary (such as a child or grandchild) could provide significant longerties and 69.1 percent of commercial  An up-to-date statement, whichmake provides a sn benefits. Theonuncertain nature ofnet-worth estate laws could While variables cometerm into play depending your income level, lifestyle andtax health considerations, there ar properties included in the many reassessment a stretch IRA a worthwhile tool for those with multi-million dollar had declining values.planning moves that can help retirees live within their means and make appropriate adjustments in response to cha A monthly or annual budget, with a itemized breakdown estates. While the new estate tax limits currently allow $5 million The full cash value in the asandchange expenses. lifetime exclusion ($10 million for couples) and a 35% tax rate on sessments in Worcester County before you haven’t retired is a good idea prepareafter a projected amounts over thatIf threshhold, they yet, are itscheduled to to sunset the phase-in for the year is $4.14 billion, Tools for the Task 2012. account for all expenses, including those that occur infrequently down from $4.83 billion Jan.or1,about to retire, you will need to gather and organize key information before you can tackle the If you as are of retired Creating a stretch IRA hasbe noreflected effect on They should in the youraccount monthlyowner's budget onRMD a prorated b 2010. The full cash of value of the monitoringassessand managingrequirements, your cash flow in retirement. Themay purpose istotoconsult give you a her clearlife and complete picture which continue to be based on his or expectanbudget, you want a financial advisor, a book on t To Page 5as well as any significant changes you expect. Two sources will provide this information: financial situation,

Stretch IRA: A Handy Estate Planning tool

A

cy. Once the account owner dies, however, beneficiaries begin taking RMDs based on their own life Whereas the owner of a that Analyzing thisexpectancies. information will reveal any major problems  An up-to-date net-worth statement, which provides aorsnapshot of your assets, debt andage cash70 reserves. stretch IRA must begin receiving RMDs after reaching 1/2, or pro emergency an income shortfall compared with current beneficiaries of a example, stretch IRA begin receiving RMDs after the you may be able to free up cash by reducingacdebt or el count owner's death. breakdowns In either scenario, distributions are taxable to  A monthly or annual budget, with itemized of your income and expenses. the payee at current income tax rates. Regular Monitoring Beneficiaries have the right to receive theretirement full value of their in- with rB If you haven’t retired yet, it is a good idea to prepare a projected budget of your income andEven expenses. Plans and projections are always subject to change. heritedthose IRAthat assets by the end such of the fifth yearbills, following the year account for all expenses, including occur infrequently, as insurance college tuition and memb living costs in retirement, it is likely you will encounter numero the account owner's death. basis. However, by opting to take only the They should be reflected in of your monthly budget on a prorated If you need assistance creating your net-wort your income and expenses will detect changes that you can addr required minimum amount instead, a beneficiary can are theoretically budget, you may want to consult a financial advisor, a book on the subject or resources that available online. road. Experts often recommend a monthly of lifeyour budge stretch the IRA and tax-deferred growth throughout hisreview or her situation and goals. While you can keep track of your situation w time. Analyzing this information will reveal any major problems that you need to address, such as insufficient cash reser Other key considerations to note: emergency or an income shortfall compared with current or projected expenses. It may also point out areas for imp · New rules allow beneficiaries to be named after the account ownexample, you may be able to free up cash by reducing debt or eliminating nonessential expenses. er's RMDs have begun, and beneficiary designations can be changed after the account owner's death (although no new beneficiaries can New Regular Monitoring be named at that point). Plans and projections are always subject to change. with reasonable about returns, in · The amount of aEven beneficiary's RMDassumptions is based on hisinvestment or her own living costs in retirement, it life is likely you will encounter numerous changes to your cash flow over time. m expectancy, even if the original account owner's RMDs had Frequent alyour income and expenses will detect changes that you can address in a timely fashion to prevent significant probl ready begun. road. Experts often recommendNote a monthly of your budget, as well as here a comprehensive review of you thatreview the information presented applies toannual traditional situation and goals. While you canbequeathed keep track of to your situation with paper and pen,Special specialized software IRAs a non-spousal beneficiary. rules applymay to make spousal beneficiaries. Contact your financial advisor or tax professional for more information. We Also Remodel Entire Houses and Condominiums

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© 2011 McGraw-Hill Financial Communications. All rights reserved.

Newsletter 1 Important Disclosure The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult me prior to investing. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. The economic forecasts set forth in the presentation may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index is a capitalization-weighted index of 500 stocks designed to measure performance of the broad domestic economy through changes in the aggregate market value of 500 stocks representing all major industries. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial.

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Dennis R. Hudson, MSFS, ChFC®, CRPC®


4 Ocean Pines PROGRESS

January-Early February 2013

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January-Early February 2013 Ocean Pines PROGRESS

From Page 3 ments statewide is $209.4 billion, down from $217.2 billion for the year beginning Jan. 1, 2010. The residential base of the properties reassessed in Worcester County has dropped by 16.4 percent. It fell from $3.6 billion as of Jan. 1, 2010 to just $3.07 billion as of Jan. 1, 2013. Residential property values decreased across the state. Statewide the total residential assessable base of properties reassessed in this cycle has decreased by 6.9 percent from $178.3 billion to $166 billion. Commercial properties in the county that were reassessed had a drop in value of 7.7 percent. The commercial assessable fell from $1.15 billion as of Jan. 1, 2010 to $1.06 billion as of Jan. 1, 2013. Statewide the commercial base of $38.9 billion grew by 11.4 percent to $43.3 billion. Assessment notices were mailed to 678,763 property owners across the state and reflect another decrease in real estate values for residential properties across Maryland. This group of properties was last valued in 2009. In Maryland, properties are reassessed by law once every three years. Properties are required to be assessed at their current market value so that all property owners pay only their fair share of local property taxes. During the past three years, residential property values in this group have experienced a decline in value with 77 percent of them decreasing. On average, the residential values in this group being reassessed decreased by 7 percent. Commercial property values showed a decrease in 13 of the 24 subdivisions but an overall average increase of 11 percent statewide. Within the notices mailed, residential property owners being reassessed this year will receive a Homestead Tax Credit Eligibility application if they

2299 2499 2699

OCEAN PINES BRIEFS New facilities coordinator joins OPA management

Jerry Aveta, a retired federal manager, has joined the Ocean Pines Association as its new facilities coordinator, authorized in the current fiscal year’s budget early last year as a means to improve maintenance of the OPA’s buildings on a more consistent and effective basis. OPA General Manager Bob Thompson confirmed the new hire in mid-December. Aveta, who has an office in the Public Works building in South Ocean Pines, is a resident of Chincoteague, Va. He is considered a department head but has no employees who work for him. He is “on the same level” as Public Works Director Eddie Wells, who supervises the activities of the OPA’s public works staff, Thompson said. Aveta, who has an engineering degree from Virginia Technological Institute, has worked for the Defense Department, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and have not already applied. The purpose of the application is to certify a homeowner’s principal residence and to ensure the property owner’s continued eligibility for this credit. The annual assessment cap applies only to owner-occupied properties. Eligible residential property owners receive a Homestead Tax Credit that limits the assessment to which local tax rates are applied. In Worcester County that limit is 3 percent. Only Anne Arundel, Prince George’s and Talbot counties have lower Homestead Tax Credit limits. The reduced taxable assessment lessens the impact of past rising property values and assessments for homeowner occupied properties that experienced increases in prior years. The Homestead Tax Credit is a State law

even taught high school for a few years. “He’ll be involved in oversight and will be developing plans and strategies for ongoing maintenance and replacement planning for the OPA’s major facilities,” Thompson said. His role includes identifying and bringing to Thompson and Wells’ attention any area that he believes needs to work. “It is collaborative type of position,” Thompson said. One of Aveta’s first assignments is to review engineering reports and to make recommendations concerning the status of Ocean Pines bridges, which in turn will be incorporated into a new “racking and stacking” of capital improvement projects and a ten-year maintenance plan, Thompson said. Aveta also was involved in preparing bid specs for the new Yacht Club pool.

Yacht Club pool bids solicited

The OPA posted on its Web site in

which mandates that all taxable assessment increases for homeowner occupied properties cannot increase by more than 10 percent per year and by a lesser percentage if chosen by the county government. The new assessments are based upon the examination of 41,189 sales that have occurred in the reassessment area during the past three years. Any decrease is fully implemented in the first tax year and remains at the reduced assessment for the full three year cycle. Any increase in property values is “phased-in” equally over the next three years. The assessment only partially determines a property owner’s tax bill. Ultimately, next July’s tax bill will be calculated with the tax rates which local gov-

2499 2699

The Adkins Company 3 Harrison Avenue, Berlin • 11048 Cathell Road, Ocean Pines

5

early January a request for proposals for the replacement of the Yacht Club pool, under an ambitious timeline. With a pre-bid meeting and walk-through set for Jan. 18, the RFPs from interested contractors are due back Jan. 31, with a contract award date anticipated for Feb. 7 and construction completion set for May 10 and testing and compliance complete by May 20. If that deadline is met, a new pool could be open in time for use by Memorial Day weekend. That, at least, is the objective. The project will include the relocation of the below grade pumphouse and related equipment but does not include demolition of the existing pool, damaged during Hurricane Sandy. The RFP says demolition of the pool will be handled in a separate contract. The RFP does not refer to deck replacement, so that, too, apparently will be dealt with in a separate contract. The expectation is that the existing wooded deck with be replaced with concrete, as occurred when the Swim and Racquet Club pool was rebuilt several years ago. The RFP says it’s the OPA’s intent to

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OCEAN PINES Reassessments

ernments will set in the spring. As part of the budgetary process, the property tax rates are established by the revenue requirements of each local government. Local governments may offset assessment increases by lowering their tax rates to the “constant yield” tax rate level. The constant yield tax rate provides local governments with a stable level of property taxes from one year to the next. The decrease in assessments could translate into a reduction in property tax revenue to Worcester County for fiscal year 2013-14. However, if the county maintains the current property tax rate, which was just increased from 70 cents to 77 cents last year, despite the declining revenue, it would mean the owners of those properties that experienced a decrease in value will pay less in property taxes during the next few years. If Worcester County holds its property tax rate steady at 77 cents per $100 of assessed value it will translate into a savings on properties where the assessed value has decreased. For example, a home that had been assessed at a $200,000 value would have had a $1,540 tax bill. If the assessed value drops by $10,000 the tax bill would decrease to $1,463. Anyone who received a reassessment notice and feels that the total new market value on their notice does not accurately reflect the market value of their property, can file an appeal with the State Department of Assessments and Taxation. The state offers an online appeal form at http://taxappeals.resiusa.org/. All property assessment appeals must be filed with the state by Feb. 11. Once an appeal is filed, the state will schedule either a personal or telephone hearing on the matter. Appeals can also be made in writing, eliminating the need for a hearing.


6 Ocean Pines PROGRESS

January-Early February 2013

OCEAN PINES

Clarke remains an OPA director after Moore fact-finding By TOM STAUSS Publisher cean Pines Association Director Martin D. (Marty) Clarke remains a member of the board of directors after a closed meeting of the board Jan. 8, when board members discussed a 28-page investigative report by general counsel Joe Moore on complaints made against Clarke by three of his colleagues and General Manager Bob Thompson. Clarke attended the board’s inaugural meeting on next year’s budget on Jan. 9. In theory, at least, the complaints could have led to a vote to remove Clarke from the board, although that seemed unlikely when news of the complaints first surfaced in November. A vote to expel any director from the board requires a supermajority of five directors, and three directors – Clarke, Dave Stevens and Ray Unger – were never likely to join an effort to remove Clarke from the board. The same was probably true for most of the other directors, to varying degrees. Because the investigation and subsequent discussion of it was done in secret, OPA members will never know for sure. The vote to go into closed session following the board’s special meeting Jan. 9 passed on a 4-3 motion, with Clarke, Stevens and Unger dissenting. Clarke said he wanted all of the allegations against him discussed in public, but OPA President Tom Terry was just as determined to keep the matter under wraps. In an explanatory statement issued by Terry just prior to the vote to go into executive session, Clarke’s name was not mentioned, a fact the OPA president pointed out to Clarke after the public session concluded. “Like there was any doubt (about who you were talking about),” Clarke said in response. During the closed session, no motion was offered on whether Clarke should

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OCEAN PINES BRIEFS From Page 5 have contractors submit proposals for a package system, with all of the components – filtering, shell, pumping and chemical systems – to be supplied and serviced by the same pool manufacturer. The rebuilt pool would be positioned in the current footprint, with a size of 40 feet by 75 feet, containing six lap lanes each six feet wide. The RFP calls for a ‘zero entry” ADA-compliant handicap entrance ramp with depth ranging from 3.5 feet to six feet at the deepest point. Plans also call for a bench seat to be installed in the 3.5 to 5 foot mark, a feature the existing pool does not include. The RFP indicates that it is not assured that a contract will be awarded or that a low bid will necessarily win the contract, which would require board of directors’ approval.

Directors take no action following completion of investigatory report by general counsel be removed from the board. No action of any kind related to Clarke was even suggested, once source said told the Progress. Other than expulsion, there is no provision in the OPA bylaws that permit or authorize any action against a director for any reason, and the same bylaws do not define the cause that might justify expulsion. Clarke did not attend the closed meeting in which his six colleagues discussed how to respond, if at all, to the contents of Moore’s investigative report. The attorney made no recommendations, laying out the findings of a relatively quick investigation of the complaints against Clarke completed by Moore after the November board meeting. A code of conduct that might have laid a foundation for a possible expulsion was repealed by a former board several years ago. A source who had read the report told the Progress that, in at least two of the complaints, Moore’s findings effectively exonerated Clarke or found no cause for complaint. In one instance, an allegation that Clarke had revealed information from a closed executive session was said by Moore to violate no provision of the OPA bylaws or the Maryland Homeowners Association Act. In the instance cited, where Clarke was quoted in the Progress as confirming the existence of an OPA offer to purchase the Pine Shore golf property north of Ocean Pines, the board had already voted to make that information public. Members of the board disagreed among themselves about the method of disclosure, with Clarke justifying his decision to release the information because a press release had not been issued in a timely fashion. Later, Thompson conducted a town meeting in which details of the Pine Shore purchase offer were disclosed. In another instance, in which Clarke was said to have charged that Thompson had put property owners at risk for a delay in posting on the OPA Web site information on a partial evacuation notice of Ocean Pines during Hurricane Sandy, Moore reportedly noted that a Progress article quoting Clarke never used the phrase “at risk.” Indeed, it didn’t, because in fact Clarke didn’t use that term. He may have implied as much, however, by noting that the ship Titantic had sunk after hitting an iceberg in less time than it took in posting the evacuation notice after it had been issued by federal officials. Clarke’s quoted comments incensed Thompson and O’Hare, both of whom were very involved in organizing and participating in the OPA’s preparations for the hurricane, involving both staff

and volunteers. Terry continues to decline comment with any specificity on any of the discussions behind closed doors regarding the Clarke complaints. He told the Progress that Clarke would be attending the board’s Jan. 9 budget meeting and that the board would “be moving on” to other matters. “Over the past few months, there have been issues raised (that) imply or state wrong-doing by our staff, general manager and/or board members,” Terry’s statement reads. “This is a serious situation that requires action… Each step taken by me, in this effort, has been with the advice of legal counsel.” Terry said that any board has a responsibility to address complaints or issues raised, no matter “who is involved or what the results of an inquiry might be.” He said further that members of the OPA or employees “need to comfortable they can bring issues to the board for resolution, without such challenges being pushed to a public stage.” But that indeed is what in the case of the Clarke allegations, with Clarke and

Stevens both pushing for a full public airing of the complaints, which has notoccured. The Clarke episode revealed a sharp split on the board between Terry on the one hand and Clarke and Stevens on the other, with both Clarke and Stevens critical of the manner in which the entire matter was handled by Terry. Both Stevens and Clarke insist that Terry had no authority to involve Moore in investigating the allegations without a board vote, which in fact never did occur. The directors informally authorized Moore to conduct the investigation against Clarke in closed session after their Nov. 28 regular meeting, days after Terry first contacted Moore to discuss the matter. Clarke had departed the meeting prior to Moore being given his marching orders. Earlier, just before the vote to go into closed session, Clarke said he wanted the matter discussed in public. He disclosed that Terry previously had informed him that he was being charged by some of his colleagues, as well as Thompson, with violating Board Policy Resolution 1-05-40, a code of conduct that was repealed by board action in a meeting on May 16, 2007.

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8 Ocean Pines PROGRESS

January-Early February 2013

OCEAN PINES

Casper execs explain half million dollar loss in golf operations Management company hopes to reduce deficit to $150,000 in FY 2014 By TOM STAUSS Publisher xecutives from Billy Casper Golf, the management company hired more than two years ago to operate the Ocean Pines golf course, are trying to defend and explain a projected half million loss in golf operations this fiscal year while offering hope that the firm will be able to deliver on a significant turn-around in Fiscal Year 2014. The attempted defense and explanation occurred in a special meeting with the Ocean Pines Association’s board of directors Jan. 8 at the Ocean Pines Country Club. Under sometimes skeptical questioning from board members, led by OPA President Tom Terry and joined in by Dave Stevens and Marty Clarke, Casper executives tried their best to explain why the company’s budget for this fiscal year is falling short of projections by

E

roughly $350,000, with the actual loss forecast to reach $500,000. Once depreciation expense is added in, the actual loss would be substantially more than $500,000, if current projections hold. Just how successful the executives were in persuading the directors that Casper deserves another year in managing the course remains to be seen, but so far only Clarke among the directors has

indicated he’s willing to make a change. Clarke told the Progress recently that he thinks the OPA should explore the option of seeking out a management company to lease the course from the OPA for a nominal annual rent. The company would assume financial responsibility for maintaining and operating the course while keeping all revenues, under this scenario. The OPA would effectively be out of

the golf business if this approach were taken. Clarke also told the Progress that he’s willing to convert the course into a member-owned equity golf course, with playing privileges extended to property owners and some sort of reversion clause included that would protect OPA’s interests in the event private equity ownership fails. To Page 11

Golf and Tern Grill operations as of Nov. 30, 2012

Casper opts for upstairs happy hour at County Club

In reaction to the decision by Ocean Pines Association General Manager Bob Thompson to close the Yacht Club for the winter, Billy Casper Golf managers are stepping up to test the waters with a fried chicken special Friday night and happy hour on the second floor of the Country Club from 4-7 p.m. Depending on response from residents, it’s possible that the upstairs of the under-utilized amenity will be used to a greater extent, perhaps with happy hours on other nights. Thompson told the Progress that the closure of the Yacht Club at least until spring represents an opportunity for BCG to step into the void and make the Country Club a popular destination. “It’s really their facility to make the best of it that they can,” Thompson said.

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From Page 8 The objective is to eliminate operating deficits in one broad stroke. So far, no other director has joined Clarke in support of exploring the lease or sale option. Another director, Dan Stachurski, suggested during discussion that Casper consider an alternative revenue structure, based on substantially reduced greens fees designed to dramatically increase the number of rounds played. He suggested 30,000 rounds at $30 per round as an example of a fee structure that could dramatically improve golf ’s bottom line. Casper executives’ reply to that was to suggest that they are proposing no increases in membership rates or non-member greens fees in their proposed budget for next year. In response to a question from Clarke, Casper executives said the company is forecasting a $150,000 loss in the fiscal year that begins May 1, or a $350,000 improvement over this year’s projected performance. The improvement is predicated on what Casper executives say will be a robust marketing effort based on the slogan of “Rediscover Ocean Pines.” It will be made possible by the completion of a greens replacement program on the

back nine holes of the course by spring of next year, as well as new drainage improvements on holes 11 and 12 and on Hingham Lane. OPA General Manager Bob Thompson is proposing a hiatus in additional golf course drainage improvements next year, which would mean that, for the first time in a number of years, golfers would not be subject to course closings or use of the temporary 19th hole. The ongoing drainage project, or lack thereof in FY 2014, is likely to be a contentious area of debate among the directors as they embark on budget deliberations in January and February. Stevens is likely to oppose any hiatus in golf drainage improvements next year, at one point during discussion at the Jan 8 special meeting criticizing the condition of the course, particularly fairways in which no drainage improvements have occurred. With the completion of holes 11 and 12 in the next several months, half of the Ocean Pines golf course has undergone drainage improvements, with two holes on the front nine and seven holes on the back nine yet to see improvements. When given an opportunity to recommend the complete closure of the course for one year to permit the completion of drainage improvements, Casper executives demurred. Joel Goldmann, a re-

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12 Ocean Pines PROGRESS

January-Early February 2013

By TOM STAUSS Publisher n a somewhat disconcerting if not discordant note as the Ocean Pines Association is weeks away from a ground-breaking on a new $4.3 million, 20,300 square foot Yacht Club, the chairman of the OPA’s budget and finance advisory committee recently expressed the view that the new building, once it’s completed and open to the membership and general public, won’t be able to sustain itself financially. At the committee’s Nov. 27 monthly meeting, chairman Dennis Hudson, a financial services broker in his day job, made the startling comment in an exchange with OPA Controller Art Carmine, who was answering committee questions about continuing losses at the OPA’s landmark dining facility. As OPA General Manager Bob Thompson has said on numerous occasions, the Yacht Club’s bottom line performance – as of the end of November the amenity has a $51,390 cumulative loss for the year and is $101,100 behind budget – has been driven by less than stellar results in the OPA’s banquet business, according to Carmine. As an example, he said that smaller weddings, resulting from people changing their minds “for economic reasons” to save money, is affecting the Yacht Club’s bottom line during the current fiscal year. Hudson responded that because of economic conditions, people lack the discretionary income to dine out as frequently or to contract for large banquet events. “I’m concerned that we won’t hit the numbers (for the remainder of the fiscal

I

Golf operations From Page 11 gional executive, said the way it’s being done in Ocean Pines is typical in the industry, as it keeps revenue flowing and the course open for play. At the same time, he and other Casper executives blame ongoing course improvements for declines in membership and rounds booked by non-members. Ocean Pines Director Terri Mohr summed up the dilemma when she said it’s difficult to sell outside rounds to non-members “when you don’t have a (consistent) product to sell,” comparing it to challenges faced in trying to market banquets at the Yacht Club in the runup to construction of a new building. Casper executives insist that with the course in a much more playable condition, they will be in a much better position to promote membership growth – it has fallen to 157 households this year, the lowest in memory – while aggressively pursuing a growth in non-member play. The effort would target both Ocean Pines residents and property owners, package play coordinated by area hotels and local golf promoters, as well as retail golfers who visit Ocean City during the

Budget committee chair questions whether new Yacht Club will pay for itself Hudson says 20,300 square foot restaurant would need $6 million in sales to break even under industry norms year), he said. Indeed, Carmine and Thompson are projecting a sizable loss for the Yacht Club this year. According to a year-end forecast released by the general manager during the board of directors’ November monthly meeting, the amenity’s food and beverage operation will lose $204,507 by the end of the fiscal year in April of next year, on net revenues of $833,132 and expenses of $1,037,702. That’s $154,758 worse than the $49,812 loss projected in the approved budget for the year. OPA Director Marty Clarke, one of three OPA directors who attended the committee meeting as observers – the fourth director, Terri Mohr, is the committee’s board liaison, sat at the committee table -- said his analysis of the numbers so far indicate that it’s not just banquets that are driving the numbers. “Retail sales are also off (projections),” he said. Hudson said the amenity’s bottom line indicates that the budget “missed the mark” on revenue and personnel costs, and he asked Carmine again why

the revenue projections are so far off. “We guessed wrong,” the controller replied. Hudson then offered his view on prospects for a new Yacht Club once it’s built and open to the public. “We’re ready to spend $4.3 million on a new Yacht Club,” and already he has a concern that it “won’t sustain itself.” Citing industry standards that link restaurant square footage and seating space with revenue, he said a 20,300 square foot restaurant would need to generate $6 million in sales” just to break even. “There’s no way that will happen,” he said. He said he has discussed this data with Thompson, who responded that the new Yacht Club is more than just a restaurant, citing substantial storage space on the first floor for pool equipment and the presence of a harbormaster’s office in one section of the new building, Hudson said. He added that plans for the new facility allow the upstairs or downstairs to be closed off while the other remains open, which will allow utility and other costs to be reduced.

summer months. There is also some indication that Casper is working to bring a Mid-Atlantic Professional Golf Association (PGA) tournament to Ocean Pines in the not too distant future, with repositioning of tee boxes to make longer championship yardages possible. Over time, Casper executives predicted that the golf course will be able to substantially reduce operating losses and even make modest profits. Clarke expressed skepticism about those prospects, suggesting that until all golf drainage improvements are completed, prospects for the golf course remain uncertain at best. Thompson pushed back against that idea, contending that a decision related to continuing the drainage program “isn’t related to Casper” but is the board’s to make. He has said previously that he believes that the condition of greens is much more critical to a positive golf experience than fairways. Stevens, a golfer, disagrees, citing grassless patches in fairways as evidence of a course that is not well maintained. Even Casper officials note that new greens take a while to grow their root structures, with at least one year needed

for them to mature. Casper executives in a PowerPoint presentation offered a number of reasons for why golf operations will be missing its budget target by roughly $350,000 this year. Cited were shortfalls in greens fees by non-members, reduced revenues from cart usage, lower dollar amounts per round, decreased confidence in the condition of the Ocean Pines course, membership declines and loss of outside play resulting from nine-hole operations at different times during the year. OPA directors expressed some skepticism about those reasons. Terry said that Casper executives were well aware of pending partial closure of the course when they drafted the current budget. Goldmann said the course took a significant revenue hit when it failed to open on May 1 with a full 18 holes available for play, but instead had a delayed reopening on June 1. The lost business in May constituted a $150,000 “delta” relative to budget, he said. Terry said that a delayed opening would not explain a budget that missed its target by $325,000 or $350,000. “You own the budget,” Stevens remarked at one point during the discussion.

OCEAN PINES Hudson then said that if revenues don’t meet projections, then management needs to be nimble enough to reduce staff to match revenues. It is also hoped that, once a new Yacht Club is open for business and the uncertainty over construction timeframes are resolved, the lucrative banquet business will return. The budget and finance committee in recent years has recommended the complete closure of the Yacht Club during the winter months to reduce operating losses. No such recommendation has been forthcoming thus far from the committee, although given the committee’s current make-up it seems farfetched to assume that members would oppose it should the general manager decide to go that route. At the board’s Nov. 28 monthly meeting, Thompson seemed less adamant about keeping the existing facility open after construction of a new Yacht Club begins, currently projected for January. A new wrinkle in that determination is the possibility that the Yacht Club pool will need to be replaced because of damage it sustained during Hurricane Sandy. The possible replacement project adds another construction site to the Yacht Club campus, with the existing building being sandwiched between them. During the discussion, it was disclosed that Clubs Advisory Committee members wre giving thought to recommending that the Yacht Club be shut down completely during January and February. In late December, Thompson acted to close the club until spring. Goldmann admitted that his firm guessed wrong when it budgeted for flat membership this year compared to last. Instead it dropped from more than 200 to 157 households. “With the course not being open (in May), people made the decision to play elsewhere,” he said, insisting that “we know that a lot of (lapsed) members want to come back,” just wanting to know when the course will return to more playable conditions. “We are cautiously optimistic that membership will be back,” he said. Stevens suggested that membership erosion has been “steady” over recent years and reflects more than just course conditions. He said that since the beginning of the golf drainage project, use of the temporary 19th hole has been fairly constant, and he indicated that he wasn’t buying the explanation that lost revenue in May was largely responsible for missing the budget target by $350,000. “I would have expected that you would have anticipated” the lost revenue in May, Stevens said. At that point in the discussion Clarke wanted to know when golf drainage improvements would be finally completed. Answer: Unknown.


January-Early February 2013 Ocean Pines PROGRESS

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January-Early February 2013

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January-Early February 2013 Ocean Pines PROGRESS

Yacht Club meets monthly target, still off budget by $100,000 for year By TOM STAUSS Publisher ith operations at the Ocean Pines Yacht Club restaurant, it’s often the proverbial good news-bad dichotomy. The good news in the November numbers is that the Ocean Pines Association’s premier “community gathering place” was off its monthly budget target by a scant $412. The bad news is that it lost $32,231 for the month and is $51,390 in the red for the year, which normally would not be good news heading into the frigid months of the fiscal year. Cumulatively through the year, the Yacht Club is behind budget by $101,100. General Manager Bob Thompson’s recent decision to close the facility at the beginning of January should mean that operating deficits at the Yacht Club for the rest of the fiscal year will be substantially less than they would be otherwise. Overall, OPA financial performance for November, released by OPA Controller Art Carmine in mid-December, produced little of note, with most OPA departments, with the exception of golf course operations, performing close to budget. Aquatics was $1,310 ahead of budget, while losing $21,100 for the month, while golf course operations, including both the golf course and Tern Grille, lost $55,640 for the month and were $110,568 behind budget. At the Yacht Club, a new pattern emerged on the revenue side, with banquets performing more or less on budget for November, with regular food and beverage numbers substantially off. In fact, banquet food business had a positive variance to budget of $354, on revenues of $10,283, something that has not occurred at the Yacht Club for some time. For the year, banquet business has not been an area of strength on the revenue side – with $94,027 and $11,653 negative variances in food and beverage, respectively. Cumulatively, total Yacht Club revenues through November have come in at $1,049,250, behind budget by almost $200,000. Another less than positive indicator: Total revenues for the year are lagging behind the same time last year by about $100,000. For the first time in a public forum, Thompson during the board of directors Nov. 28 monthly meeting declined to definitively pledge his intentions to keep the existing Yacht Club open after the New Year or once construction of a new, $4.3 million, 20,300 square foot facility commences. As it turned out, the decision to close after the New Year’s Eve party at the

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club was made with little fanfare -- a one-line posting on the OPA Web site section in early January relating to the Yacht Club. The website post indicated that the OPA would “see (its customers) in the spring,” an indication that Thompson intends to reopen the amenity as construction of a new building adjacent to the existing one is under way. The Clubs Advisory Committee had been debating a recommendation to

close the Yacht Club during January and February, and the Budget and Finance Advisory Committee in previous years has recommended closure during the winter months as a way of controlling costs. Thompson this year trimmed days of operation to four days, Thursday through Sunday after Labor Day, and has said keeping the restaurant open as much as possible during the off-season provides an important service to Ocean

OPA Net Financial Operations through Nov. 30, 2012

Yacht Club Net Operations through Nov. 30, 2012

15

Pines residents. But that objective finally yielded to the exigencies of an amenity whose financial performance has been lagging behind budget projections and that will soon be in the center of a construction zone. Thompson’s decision to close the amenity, to some degree at least, keeps the amenity’s losses from accumulating as the fiscal year enters its worst performing months. Thompson and Controller Art Carmine recently prepared and released during the Nov. 28 meeting a budget forecast for the remainder of the fiscal year that indicates, absent any intervening event, that the Yacht Club will q

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OCEAN PINES OPA finances From Page 15 lose $204,570 for the year, compared to the budgeted $49,812 loss, a $154,758 negative variance. The decision to close the Yacht Club amenity for the duration of the fiscal year that ends on April 30 could mean that the actual loss and variance to budget will not be as negative as that projection. The November numbers suggest that golf operations remain as the most worrisome amenity department in Ocean Pines. While the actual loss of $55,640 for the month was only $10,568 worse than budgeted, golf operations cumulatively has generated $191,074 in losses through November, on a pace that could produce an actual loss for the fiscal

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year somewhere in the neighborhood of $500,000. That actual loss compares to a budgeted surplus through November of $134,160, which is an eye-popping negative variance to budget of $325,234. The golf budget for the year was prepared by Billy Casper Golf, the course contract manager, whose executives met with the board of directors in a special meeting January 8 to discuss the golf budget and related issues. [See article elsewhere in this edition of the Progress for details.] According to a separate forecast for the remainder of the fiscal year, golf is on track to lose more than a half million dollars this fiscal year, and that’s before depreciation expense is added to that number. That loss also excludes golf-related capital expenses, which easily pushes combined golf related expenditures this fiscal year to well above $1 million. That’s especially onerous in the context of declining annual golf membership, which stood at 158 households as of Oct. 31. Golf operations were a major factor in the OPA’s financial performance in November, which, in totality, ended up close to budget, with the actual resulting $13,554 negative variance an improvement over October’s $80,619 negative variance and September’s $58,568 negative variance. According to the November financial report prepared by Carmine and made available to the board of directors in mid-December, revenues were under budget by $22,303 and total expenses were under budget by $13,752. New capital expenditures were over budget by $50,003. For the first seven months of the fiscal year, the OPA has a negative operating variance to budget of $357,971, up slightly from October’s cumulative negative variance of $344,416. At the end of August, the cumulative negative variance stood at $205,233. Through November, cumulative revenues are under budget by $464,815, total expenses are under budget by $140,141, and new capital is over budget by $33,297. Of the three major amenity operations, Aquatics was the best performing major amenity as measured by operating losses for the month, with an actual deficit of $21,100, followed by the Yacht Club’s $32,231 loss and golf ’s $55,640 loss. Aquatics slipped into a slight cumulative deficit – a minus $2,170 -- in November, with a $73,153 cumulative negative variance for the first seven months of the fiscal year. One positive line item was member dues, which brought in $1,625 in revenues compared to the budgeted zero. Under current membership policy, anyone can purchase pool memberships anytime during the fiscal year, which makes budgeting more difficult than it was in the years when aquatics memberships were generally purchased in the lead-up to the beginning of the new

q

16 Ocean Pines PROGRESS


January-Early February 2013 Ocean Pines PROGRESS

OCEAN PINES

17

Thompson opts to close Yacht Club in early January General manager is keeping his options open on whether to recommend reopening the Yacht Club in the spring By TOM STAUSS Publisher he “open for business” philosophy that has driven much of General Manager Bob Thompson’s tenure as Ocean Pines’ chief executive officer for the past two years has been adjusted, with the quietly announced decision to close the Yacht Club completely in early January for the winter, if not longer, in the face of the anticipated ground-breaking of a new 20,000 square foot facility very soon. After Labor Day, the general manager implemented a four-day schedule for the amenity in the hopes that financial losses at the OPA’s primary restaurant facility could be trimmed or at least come in closer to budget. The latest financial report for the facilities indicates a mixed result at best for the amenities, which lost more than $30,000 during November but came very close to budgeted forecasts for the month. [See separate article in this edition of the Progress for details.] The announcement of the Yacht Club’s closure for at least the winter season was made with no fanfare. It didn’t even warrant a press release, simply a one-line disclosure on the OPA Web site, in the section pertaining to the Yacht Club. It simply announced the closure of the facility for the season, with an expression of hope that the staff would “see” its Ocean Pines customer base in the spring. Whether that in fact will happen remains to be seen, as Thompson told the Progress in early January that he was “keeping his options open” on whether he would recommend keeping the club closed as work on a new Yacht Club and a new pool commences. The general manager hopes that the pool will be completed in time for a Memorial Day weekend reopening. The closure of the Yacht Club represents a partial policy victory for a frequent Thompson critic, OPA board member Marty Clarke, who advocates as a matter of policy the club’s closure right after Labor Day. But he was less than enthused with the manner in which the decision was made and implemented, apparently without a formal board vote or, according to Clarke, even the courtesy of advanced notice. Joining Clarke in his dismay over the way the decision was implemented was Director Dave Stevens, who called the To Page 20

T

OPA finances From Page 16 fiscal year every May 1. Aquatics operations through November were doing better this year compared to a year ago, when the November 30 cumulative deficit stood at a negative $13,078. A recent forecast for the end of the fiscal year projects aquatics losses of about $172,000. Status of reserves – A reserve summary released as part of the November financials shows that the OPA’s total reserve balance through Nov. 30 stands at $6,991,574, a modest drop from October. September’s balance was $7,456,260, representing a decline of roughly $450,000 in two months.

The major maintenance and replacement reserve is the most flush with a $5,645,698 balance, a slight decline from October’s $5,692,366 balance. Of that, $1,281,581 is attributable to the five-year funding plan, currently in its fourth year of programmed assessment allocations amounting to $26 per year cumulatively, and another $4,364,117 is attributable to historical depreciation expense. The approved $4.3 million expenditure for a new Yacht Club will take a substantial bite out of the major maintenance and replacement reserve whenever it is spent. The intent when the current year’s budget was approved last February was to spread the construction cost over at least two fiscal years.

Each year, the OPA collects about $3 million in assessment dollars that are allocated to various reserves. What is depleted in the form of capital expenditures is replenished by this infusion of new property assessment dollars. Casino revenues – The OPA continues to reap local impact funds for casino operations at Ocean Downs and elsewhere in the state. Through November, the OPA had collected $435,562 in casino funds, up from October’s $420,685, according to the OPA’s November balance sheet. The OPA board of directors has decided to use these funds for road improvements, beginning in the current fiscal year.


18 Ocean Pines PROGRESS

PenFed Realty January-Early February 2013

Cindy Welsh 757-854-1604 (Office) 410-912-4701 (Fax) 302-381-6910 (cell)

PO Box 28, 37054 State Line Road, Greenbackville, VA. 23356

candhwelsh@aol.com For A Virtual Tour of Captain’s Cove, Please Visit My Web site at captainscoveproperties.com

Captain’s Cove -- Hidden Treasure on Virginia’s Eastern Shore 2661 Jolly Roger Drive • $174,900

37272 Luff Court • $185,000

Well maintained and landscaped Oakwood Home. Private setting and plenty of space for entertaining. 2026 sq ft., 3BR,2BA, split floor plan, oversized family room with gas fireplace, oversized bonus room, front porch, back deck, custom blinds, and more. Large master bedroom with his and hers sinks and closets. Detached 2-Car Garage 24 x 24, ideal for a workshop.

Motivated Seller!! 3 BR/2BA rancher (2145 sq ft) with oversized bonus room (13x25) over a 2-car garage. Piedmont floor plan w/lots of upgrades & plenty of space for entertaining & weekend gueests. Extension of master BR and great room, corian countertops, stainless steel appliances, ceramic tile and carpet flooring, screen porch. Shed does NOT convey.

WATERFRONT & WATERVIEW LOTS • $12,000 1/1142 Wooded, W & S (477852) SOLD • $59,900 1/1238 Cleared, W & S (464021) • $75,000 4/1862 Wooded, Septic Approved (476403) • $80,000 1/956 Cleared Canal, W & S (477690) U/C • $90,000 3/1443 Cleared Canal, W & S (477567) • $97,500 1/943 Cleared Canal, W & S (472439) • $150,000 3/1296 Cleared, Direct Bay front W&S (477086)

GOLF COURSE LOTS

• $11,000 2/377 Cleared, Alternative Septic (481223) • $15,000 2/308 Cleared, Septic Approved (475003) • $17,000 2/273 Cleared Septic Approved (477472) • $19,500 2/453 Mostly Cleared, W & S (472279) • $20,000 2/136 Wooded (468729) • $23,000 2/172 Cleared (471489) • $23,000 2/267 Cleared, Septic Approved (476341) • $28,500 2/125 Wooded, Septic Approved (463848) • $28,500 2/150 Wooded, Septic Approved (463847)

Captain’s Cove Association Lots Starting At $7,500

INTERIOR LOTS

4164 Captain’s Corridor •$193,900 37335 Sea Winds Court • $194,500 PRICE REDUCREDU TION!!! Like new CED with builder upgrades and priced under New Construction. Seller is ready to move and looking for the right family to make this house a home. The “Mariner” floor plan offers 3BR 2.5 BA 2020 sq ft. Great Room, Sunroom with gas fireplace, oversized loft, screened porch, concrete front porch and more. Furnished with some exclusions.

• $4,000 1/1060 Wooded (478966) • $4.500 5/2446 Wooded, Septic Approved (477727) • $5,500 6/15 Wooded, Septic Approved (474537) SOLD • $6,400 6/77 Wooded, Septic Approved (472520) SOLD • $6,900 10/8 Mostly Cleared (465781) • $6,900 7/227 Wooded (465783) • $6,900 4/1948 Wooded (465820) • $7,500 9/40 Cleared (477717) SOLD • $7,500 9/20 Cleared (477718) • $7,500 6/89 Wooded (477723) • $7,500 5/2545 Wooded (477724) • $7,500 4/2150 Wooded (477725) • $7,500 4/2014 Wooded (477726) • $7,500 6/63 Wooded (477728) • $7,500 4/1980 Wooded (477730) • $8,000 5/41 Wooded, Septic Approved (470205) • $8,500 6/45 Wooded, Septic Approved (481154) • $8,500 11/2 Wooded (479198) • $8,500 11/3 Wooded (479197) • $8,500 8/36 Cleared (479201) • $8,500 9/145 Cleared (479206) U/C

Beautiful landscaped circular paved driveway. Oakwood modular rancher on one of the largest cul-de-sac lots in Captain’s Cove, plenty of space for entertaining and parking. 2026 sq ft., 3BR, 2 BA, split floor plan, living room, family room with pellet stove, bonus room with fireplace, den, dining area, master bedroom with hers & his closets and sink, shower & garden tub, 2 additional bedrooms, office area, custom blinds, crown molding. Three season room, detached 2 car garage 24 X 24.

• $8,500 9/101 Wooded (479207) • $8,500 8/24 Cleared, Septic Approved (470484) • $8,900 3/1723 Wooded, Septic Approved (478995) • $8,500 11/10 Wooded, Septic Approved (478998) • $9,000 5/2462 Wooded, Septic Approved (473531) • $9,500 4/2313 Wooded, Septic Approved (New) SOLD • $9,500 8/61 Cleared, Septic Approved (478997) SOLD • $9,900 5/2438 Wooded, Septic Approved (478432) • $10,000 6/85 Wooded, Septic Approved (466989) U/C • $10,000 9/119 Wooded, Septic Approved (476379) SOLD • $10,000 9/89 Cleared, Septic Approved (478202) SOLD • $10,000 3/1782 Wooded, Septic Approved (478723) SOLD • $10,000 2379 Wooded (479420) • $10,000 6/39 Wooded (479422) • $10,000 7/117 Cleared (481388) • $12,000 1/1084 Wooded, Water & Sewer (481388) • $17,500 4/2240 Wooded, Septic Approved ( 478726)

FUTURE DEVELOPMENT/ INVESTMENT LOTS

• $3,900 18/109 (465841) • $1,000 16/103 • $9,900 13/97 (465835) (474214) • $3,900 17/81 (465778) • $20,000 1/748 Direct Bay Front (477962)

CALL FOR LIST 2012 BRER Affiliates, Inc. An independently owned and operated broker member of BRER Affiliates Inc. Prudential, the Prudential logo and the Rock symbol are registered service marks of Prudential Financial, Inc., and its related entities, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Used under license with no other other affiliation with Prudential. Equal Housing Opportunity. Prudential PenFed is an independently owned and operated member of BRER Affiliates, Inc. PenFed membership is not required to conduct business with Prudential PenFed Realty


A January-Early February 2013 Ocean Pines PROGRESS

Skip Lyons

SKIP LYONS, REALTOR, & MD. REALTOR VA &VA.MD

Cell: 443-235-0200 • Office: 1-888-241-9590

J

19

BUILDERS8660 Whaleyville & EASTERN SHORE, INC. A 410-352-3439 M

J & A Builders specializ Office: 1-888-241-9590 37054 State Line Road, Box 28 Cell: PO 443-235-0200 J & A Builders specializes in spec home sales and new home construction. All Office: 1-888-241-9590 Greenbackville, VA. 23356 home construction. All of our models are “stick built” Skip.Lyons@PenFedRealty.com Skip.Lyons@PenFedRealty.com YourandOcean feature a Pines/Captain’s first floorand masterfeature site with Cove a whirlpool tub, floor a Builder first www.Skip.Lyons.pcragent.com separate shower and ceramic tile floors. These are a www.Skip.Lyons.pcragent.com 37054 State Line Rd., P.O. Box 28 few of our models that we can build on shower your lot. separate and c Meridian Drive • $174,800 Greenbackville, VA 23356 Beautiful J & A Dolphin 37054 State Line Rd., P.O. Box 28 few of our 2012 modelmodels on golf course.that The PERCH The DOLPHIN The WAHOO SkipLyons@PenFedRealty.com Skip Lyons Cell: 443-235-0200 www.SkipLyons.pcragent.com REALTOR VA & MD

8660 Whaleyville Road Whaleyville, MD 21872 MHBR NO. 4790

TURNKEY MODEL Greenbackville, VA 23356 PACKAGES

The PERCH

3 Br 2 Ba, vaulted living room, open kitchen & spacious dining room. Separate laundry room, 1 car garage, screenporch, Energy Star Certified. 1496 sq ft.

The WAHOO

The PERCH

The DOLPHIN

Ranch Style Home has 3 Bedrooms, 2 Baths, Living Room, Ranch Style Home with 3 kitchen, Dining Area, and Rear Bedrooms 2 Baths, Screened Ranch-style home withDeck. 3 bed1 Car Garage Porch, and Appliance Package. Ranch-style home with 3 bedrooms, rooms,$119,173 2 baths, kitchen,1349 dining SQFT $126,590 1304 SQFT

The

2 baths, screened porch, and appliance package. 1304 sq. ft. $120,273

area, great room, 1-car garage and rear deck. 1404 sq. ft. $145,644 The TARPON The SAILFISH

Ranch Style Home has 3 Bedrooms, 2 Baths, Kitchen, Dining Area, Great Room, 1 Car Garage, and Rear Deck. 1408 SQFT $145,644

TARPON 2012

The GRAND TARPON

The DOLPHIN

The SAILFISH

Ranch Style Home has 3 Bedrooms, 2 Baths, Living Room, Ranch Style Home with 3 Ranch Style Home has 3 BedTwo-story Contemporary Home Two-story Contemporary Home MODEL OF THE MONTH kitchen, Dining Area, and Rear rooms, 2 Baths, Kitchen, Dining has 3 Bedrooms, 2.5 Baths, Living has 4 Bedrooms, 2.5 Baths, Living Bedrooms 2 Baths, Screened area, Breakfast Nook, Great Room, Room, Kitchen, Dining Area, Loft, Room, Kitchen, Dining Area, Loft, Ranch-style contemporary Deck. Car Garage Ranch-style home with2 Car 3 bedGarage,Package. and Rear Deck. Rearhome Deck and 2 Car 1 Garage. Family Room. Porch, and Appliance 1527 SQFT SQFT $155,625 2300 SQFT $224,802 home $166,412 with 3 bedrooms,1696 2 baths, rooms, 2 baths, kitchen, dining 1349 SQFT living room, kitchen, dining area, area,SQFT breakfast nook, great room, 1304 $119,173 Turn Key on Your $126,590 Captain’s

$156,625*

loft, rear deck, great room, 12x24 2-car garage and rear deck. 1527 The MARLIN The BARRACUDA garage. 1496 sq. ft. $127,690 sq. ft. $166,412

Cove Lot

(Lot Clearing by Owner)

The TARPON

• 100% Stick Built • 1696 Sq. Ft. The BARRACUDA The MARLIN • Quality in Every Detail • Two-story Contemporary • Master Suite • 3 Bedrooms, 2.5 Baths • Volume Ceilings • Circle Top Window • Energy Star Appliance Package Two-story Contemporary Home has 4 • Screened 2 story Contemporary Home has 4 Porch • Loft • 2-Car Garage

The SAILFISH

Bedrooms, 2.5 Baths, Living Bedrooms, 2.5 Baths, Great * Ocean PinesRoom, Prices Higher Due to Worcester County’s Sprinkler System requirement Room, home Formal Dining Room, kitchen, Kitchen, Dinette, Dining Room, contemporary Two-story contemporary home Dinette, Rear Deck and 2 Car Garage. 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, home with 4 bedrooms,Loft, 2.5 Rear baths,Deck and 2 Car Garage. 1874 SQFT $170,309 2050 SQFT $188,559 Captain’s Corridor • $169,728

Two-story home with living room, formal dining, kitchen, dinette, rear deck, 2-car garage. 1874 sq. ft. $170,309

great room, kitchen, dinette, dining Great Layout!! Fantastic valroom,prices loft, rear deck and 2-car standards, gaNote: Above include all appliances and builders but do not include cost of lot and are subject to change. ue. Large rooms with easy flow rage. 2050 sq. ft. $188,559

OTHER MODELS AVAILABLE

Call Skip Lyons 443-235-0200

throughout, 3BR, 2 1/2 BA Tarpon model by J & A Builders. Ask about 100% Financing.

Ranch Style Home has 3 BedTwo-story Contemporary Home 2012 BRER Affiliates, Inc. An independently owned and operated broker member of BRER Affiliates Inc. Prudential, the Prudential logo and the Rock symbol are registered service marks of Prudential Financial, Inc., and its related entities, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Used under license with no other other affiliation with Prudential. Equal Housing Opportunity. Prudential PenFed is an independently owned and operated member of BRER Affiliates, Inc. PenFed membership is not required to conduct business with Prudential PenFed Realty rooms, 2 Baths, Kitchen, Dining has 3 Bedrooms, 2.5 Baths, Living


20 Ocean Pines PROGRESS

January-Early February 2013

OCEAN PINES

FBI report shows Ocean Pines had low crime rate in 2011 By ROTA L. KNOTT Contributing Writer cean Pines had the second lowest rate of violent crime among the five local law enforcement agencies in Worcester County, according to the FBI’s report on Crime in the United States for 2011. Only the town of Berlin had a rate lower than Ocean Pines. With a year-round population of 11,821, Ocean Pines had just five violent crimes that were reported to the FBI in 2011. It also had two robberies, three aggravated assaults, 121 property crimes, 25 burglaries, 93 larceny thefts, and four motor vehicle thefts. There were no forcible rapes, arsons or murders reported to the FBI. Berlin has a population 4,528 and had just four violent crimes that were reported to the FBI in 2011. The town also reported one forcible rape, one robbery, two aggravated assaults, 140 property crimes, 29 burglaries and 111 larceny thefts. There were no motor vehicle thefts, arsons or murders reported by the Berlin police department. In Ocean City, where the population is 7,169, there were 93 violent crimes in 2001 including four forcible rapes, 20 robberies and 69 aggravated assaults. The town also had 1,336 property crimes, 189 burglaries, 1,135 larceny thefts, 12 motor vehicle thefts and 2 arsons. Again there were no murders reported to the FBI by the local law enforcement agencies. Despite a smaller population of just 4,224,Pocomoke City has the second highest rate of violent crime, with a reported 44. The town had two robberies, 42 aggravated assaults, 191 property crimes, 39 burglaries, 148 larceny thefts, four motor vehicle thefts and two arsons. The local police reported no forcible rapes or murders in 2011. In Snow Hill, where the population

O

is just 2,123, there were 12 reported violent crimes, including 40 property crimes, 8 burglaries, 32 larceny thefts and 12 aggravated assaults. There were no forcible rapes, robberies, motor vehicle thefts, arsons or murders reported by the local police in Snow Hill. Of the three Lower Shore counties, Worcester placed in between Wicomico and Somerset for the number of violent crimes reported to the FBI by local agencies in 2011. The data as shown by county does not reflect county totals but just the number of offenses reported by the sheriff ’s office or county police department. Worcester County reported 64 vio-

lent crimes to the FBI during the year 2011. The county reported one murder and non-negligent manslaughter, two forcible rapes, three robberies, 58 aggravated assaults, 256 property crimes, 68 burglaries, 185 larceny thefts, 3 motor vehicle thefts and 1 arson. By comparison Wicomico County reported 97 violent crimes in 2011, but no murders and non-negligent manslaughters. The county reported 1 forcible rape, 13 robberies, 83 aggravated assaults, 863 property crimes, 300 burglaries, 536 larceny thefts, 27 motor vehicle thefts and 9 arsons. The FBI also collects and reported data on the number of full-time officers

and civilian employees of local law enforcement agencies. In 2011, Ocean Pines reported a total staff of 19 law enforcement employees, with 15 sworn officers and 4 civilians. Ocean City had a total of 124 employees with 101 sworn officers and civilian employees of 23. Berlin reported 18 employees with 13 being officers and 5 civilians. Pocomoke City had a total of 20 law enforcement employees including 14 officers and 6 civilians. Snow Hill had just 8 officers and 1 civilian employee. Worcester County reported having a total of 57 law enforcement employees, with 46 being sworn officers and 11 civilians.

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Yacht Club closure From Page 17 decision a policy matter that Thompson should have cleared with the board first. “Tom Olson (Thompson’s predecessor) never would have done it that way,” Stevens said. “It’s a policy matter with budgetary implications that Bob mishandled, which isn’t to say that the decision was wrong.” Thompson said that he regarded the matter as administrative matter not requiring board approval but that, had the board met in December, he no doubt would have mentioned the decision during the general manager’s report segment of the meeting. But Clarke and Stevens both complained that no one had taken the time to inform them of the decision in advance, and Clarke said he learned of it second-hand from a reporter who had seen the post on the Web site.

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ON HIGH LOT TH LIKE NEW ON OVERLOOKING 6TH6TEEGREEN

Nestled a canopy white of Ocean under Pines Golf course of in prestioaks, Bay thisColony one-owner saltbox gious section. Well-built offers IMMEDIATE Nanticoke home with 3OCCUPANY! bedrooms, 2 full all appliances and huge sun3 baths, bedrooms, 2 baths + great REDUCED TO deck the rear. room on + $2000 carpet allowance

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January-Early February 2013 Ocean Pines PROGRESS

21

Clarke challenges Thompson ‘spin’ on operating deficits

D

uring his Jan. 9 budget presentation to the board of directors, General Manager Bob Thompson included numbers indicating that operating losses in Fiscal Years 2007 through 2009 totaled $499,814, offset by net operating surpluses of $364,422 from 2010 through 2012. Thompson said those numbers represented an $864,236 “swing” in operational results over that period, which he characterized as a very positive development for Ocean Pines. Another way of looking at the same numbers is that they show a $135,392 operating loss over those six years [$364,422-$499,814=-$135,392]. Thompson told the Progress in a follow-up conversation that in his view the surpluses from 2010 to 2012 prove that the OPA has been heading in the right direction in recent years. “It’s the trend that matters the most,” he said, “and the trend has been positive,” with a couple of exceptions, including the one-time IRS settlement charge-off and a projected loss at the golf course in the current fiscal year of roughly $500,000. Thompson acknowledged that the 2012 surplus of $151,348 was reversed by a one-time charge resulting from the OPA losing the Internal Revenue Service/Beach Club unrelated business income case, at a cost of $459,000. For that year, the OPA’s loss was $307,652 with the IRS charge included. Thompson’s number was slightly adjusted, an actual loss of $307,762. Although Thompson didn’t do the math, the one-time IRS charge increased the actual loss over that six-year period to $594,392 [$135,392 + $459,000]. Focusing on the positive, Thompson said the actual deficit over the three positive fiscal years of 2010 to 2012 was $94,578, including the IRS charge [$364,422-$459,000=$94,578]. Those numbers as presented by Thompson for informational purposes – they actually aren’t relevant to the Fiscal Year 2014 draft budget -- triggered an explosion from OPA Director Marty Clarke, who called the numbers flat-out wrong. Thompson deflected the angry outburst from Clarke, telling the director that the numbers presented were based on annual audited financial results. He declined to debate numbers or how to interpret them with Clarke. In his subsequent conversation with the Progress, Thompson repeated that the overall trends in Ocean Pines are positive, calling the IRS charge a onetime anomaly and the projected golf deficits something that he doesn’t directly control. The golf course is managed by Billy Casper Golf, which is about to enter into the third year of a three-year contract to operate the golf course for the association. If the one-time IRS charge and this year’s golf losses are removed from the math for analytical purposes, Thompson

said the overall financial trend in Ocean Pines under his tenure is moving in the right direction. Clarke and Director Dave Stevens cite the same numbers and draw an opposite conclusion. Thompson’s numbers didn’t include the projected loss for the current fiscal year – 2013 – of roughly $350,000, which would bring the total operational loss over seven years to almost $1 million [$594,392+$350,000=$944,392]. “I didn’t include the 2013 numbers because we don’t have them yet, only estimates,” Thompson said. Largely responsible for this year’s anticipated $350,000 deficit is a projected half million loss in golf operations,

Thompson said, without which there would be a $150,000 operating surplus for this year. Thompson said he believes his interpretation of the numbers is a more accurate reflection of the OPA’s financial reality and an indicator of positive trends, albeit with challenges that he says he’s willing to identify and tackle. Thompson also used the occasion of the Jan. 9 budget presentation to compare the base lot assessment in Ocean Pines – currently $873 and projected to increase to $916 under the draft budget for Fiscal Year 2014 – to other communities in the area. Homeowners in Berlin, subject to a levy of 68 cents per $100 of assessed val-

uation, pay $1360 in property taxes on a house valued at $200,000, according to Thompson. The homeowner association fees in other local communities of Glen Riddle are $2904 annually, $1180 in Oyster Harbor in West Ocean City, $920 in Decatur Farms in Berlin, $800 in Indian Creek, and $703 in Lighthouse Sound, Thompson said. Some of these communities don’t provide services anywhere close to those provided for the property owners in Ocean Pines, Thompson said. Indian Creek’s assessment includes community lights, while Oyster Harbor operates an outdoor swimming pool and clubhouse, he said. – Tom Stauss

“Come Hunt For Your

Special Treasure”

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January-Early February 2013

Proposed budget From Page 1 membership as well. In addition to the departmental operations, the proposed budget also calls for significant capital expenditures, mainly attributable to the construction of a new Yacht Club. While some of those expenditures will be occurring in the current fiscal year, according to OPA Controller Art Carmine, the bulk of them will occur in Fiscal Year 2014. The draft budget anticipates $4,228,000 in fund transfer for capital expenditures, in addition to Sports Core pool loan repayment of $55,005. That brings the total proposed budget to $13,896,008. The proposed $43 increase in assessments includes $26 for the five-year funding plan component of the major maintenance and replacement reserve and another $4 for the operating fund recovery reserve. Another $3 would go toward amortizing golf drainage improvements, with $10 attributable to increases in operating costs. As part of its budget guidance in preparation of next year’s spending plan, the directors told staff that it should strive not to increase the operations side of the budget, a goal missed by $10. The $26 for the five-year funding plan would represent the fifth and final year

ASIAN CUISINE

OCEAN PINES

of that program, which was designed to collect additional resources for major capital expenditures over time, to help with the replacement , rehabilitation or repairs of Ocean Pines’ inventory of aging facilities. The other $4 in annual assessment increases has gone to offset operating losses from 2007 to 2009, in a special recovery reserve set up for that purpose. During a relatively brief summary of the budget presented by Thompson to the directors Jan. 9, the general manager said the draft budget reflected continued sensitivity to the economic conditions and hardships experienced by some association members, a factor which he said led to a decision to propose no new capital items in the budget. New capital items are financed out of current year assessments, while replacement items are generally financed out of the OPA’s accumulated reserve funds. He said that the need to spend considerable sums of money on a new Yacht Club pool, previously unbudgeted, as well as a new Yacht Club, drove the decision not to propose any so-called “new capital” items. Capital expenditures for replacement items, however, more than make up for that. Of the $4,228,600 in proposed spending out of the OPA’s major maintenance and replacement reserve, $3.3 million would be spent on the new

Budget meeting schedule Jan. 14 and 15, Ocean Pines Country Club, 9 a.m. – Budget and Finance Advisory Committee budget review sessions Jan. 24 and 25, Ocean Pines Country Club, 9 a.m. – Board of Directors budget review sessions Feb. 2 – Ocean Pines Community Center, 9 a.m. – Public hearing on the budget Feb. 6 – Ocean Pines Country Club, 3 p.m. – Board of Directors budget work session (if needed) Feb. 23 – Ocean Pines Community Center, 9 a.m. -- Regular Board of Directors monthly meeting, budget approval vote anticipated Yacht Club building in the new fiscal year. Some Yacht Club costs are being absorbed in the current year’s budget. Other proposed capital expenditures include $184,400 for new kitchen equipment and $39,000 for new furniture at the new Yacht Club. The draft budget allocates $75,000 for paving the Beach Club parking lot, $100,000 for a new dump truck for at the Public Works Department, $32,000 for a new police vehicle, and $115,000 in turf utility and rough unit vehicles for

the golf course, among the more expensive items. The draft budget bestows $32,000 on the aquatics department for a new truck, along with $38,000 in pool fencing and $18,000 in new pool furniture. The most expensive capital expenditure item in the proposed recreation department is a new truck for $25,000. No funds to repair the Swim and Racquet Club pool surface has been included thus far, with Carmine telling the Progress that could remedied once supporting documentation is provided. Also not included in the initial draft budget are improvements to the Swim and Racquet Club toddler’s pool, for handicap access, which could also be added later in the process or, perhaps, funded out of the current year’s budget. Tennis capital expenditures would be lightly funded -- $1500 in umbrella stands and benches, $2000 in wind screens, and $1800 in new gates for tennis courts 2, 5 and 8. The draft capital budget also includes two canal aerators at a cost of $3000 and a new North Gate aerator for another $3000. Proposed Public Works capital expenditures include $100,000 dump truck and the aerators, the budget earmarks $36,000 for a new sprayer, $30,000 for a new truck, $28,000 for a new mow-

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January-Early February 2013 Ocean Pines PROGRESS

Proposed budget From Page 22 er, $22,500 for new wood marquees, $20,000 for two new Z-mowers, $16,500 for a sand trike, and $10,000 for a new plow, among other less costly items The draft budget is notable in at least one respect for what isn’t proposed, continuation of the golf drainage program. In deference to a previous board decision, the draft budget reflects amortization costs associated with the self-financing of this year’s golf drainage project. The sum of $25,341 appears in the golf drainage reserve as a transfer from operations and explains $3 of the proposed assessment increase of $43. But the draft budget includes no new money for golf drainage improvements, the absence of which is likely to draw criticism from at least one board member, Dave Stevens, who has been a staunch advocate of consistent funding and actual expenditures on golf drain-

age improvements on the golf course each year. He previously has been critical of the stop-and-go nature of drainage improvements in recent years; work on holes number 11 and 12 is currently under way, along with green replacement on the back nine. Also not included in the draft capital budget are costs associated with a new Yacht Club pool, most likely reflecting the fact that the project cost has not yet been determined. Those costs could be added before budget approval, as a request for proposals has been posted with bids due back by the end of January. The new pool, including a relocated pumphouse and new concrete decking, would be funded out of the replacement reserve. This reserve will be substantially depleted during FY ’14 but not in horrible shape. A draft reserve schedule included in the budget draft estimates an April 30 balance in this reserve of $3,772,334 and an ending balance of $2,511,412 on April 30 of 2014.

Proposed Fiscal Year 2014 budget summary

Proposed modest increases in amenity membership fees – golf, swimming and tennis fees among them-- do not include Beach Club parking fees, marina fees and weekly pool and tennis memberships, which have been increased in recent years. But daily user fees at the pools would increase by $1, with the cost of an electronic pools pass increasing by $5 to $35. The draft budget includes summary business plans for the Yacht Club and aquatics for the coming year. The business plan for the golf course operation was summarized by Casper Golf executives during a special meeting of the board Jan. 8 [See separate article elsewhere in this edition of the Progress for details.] The proposed spending plan includes proposed increases in salary and related costs of 1.7 percent over what was approved for the current year, but 4.7 percent over the most current projections, Thompson told directors. In an executive summary included with the draft budget, Thompson says that the construction schedule for the

23

new Yacht Club presented unusual challenges in crafting the spending plan for next year. “In FY 2013-14, four and a half months of operations will be conducted in the existing facility, three months of the year it will be closed for final demolition, and four months of the year we will be open for catered events and activities in our new facility.” Even so, the draft budget forecasts an operating loss of $105,000 in Yacht Club food and beverage operations next year, compared to this year’s forecasted loss of $142,000. The executive summary also indicates more realistic budgeting for aquatics operations next year. “After reviewing the historical data for Aquatics, underscored by this year’s operating losses, it is clear that we have not effectively budgeted for the appropriated staffing levels needed to meet regulatory requirements,” Thompson wrote, indicating that this year’s budget reflects “correct staffing requirements.” He also said the proposed aquatics budget reflects increased revenue in swim lessons, daily fees and coupon sales.

Proposed amenity fees in Thompson’s draft budget The draft budget for Fiscal Year 2014 unveiled by Ocean Pines Association General Manager Bob Thompson in early January proposes five per cent increases in most amenity fees, the first time in five years these charges will have risen. Exempt from the proposed hikes are marina slip fees, Beach Club parking fees, and weekly memberships, last increased in 2012. The proposed new rates, still subject to approval by the OPA board of directors, are as follows: Swim memberships, property owners and residents – Summer, family, increased from $300 to $315; summer individual, from $180 to $190. Winter, family, from $425 to $445; winter, individual, from $290 to $275. Yearly, family, from $550 to $580; Yearly, individual, from $350 to $370. These rates apply to property owners and residents of Ocean Pines. Swim associate rates, applicable to those who don’t live or own property in Ocean Pines: Summer, family, increased from $395 to $415; summer, individual, from $225 to $235. Winter, family, from $530 to $555; winter, individual, from $345 to $360. Yearly, family, from $690 to $725; yearly, individual, from $440 to $460. Swim daily user fees and discount coupon books: $1 per day increase in all categories, resulting in an increase in the charge for the coupon book (actually, an electronic swipe card) from $30 to $35. Tennis memberships, property owners and residents: Family, increased from $500 to $525; individual, from $300 to $315; associate memberships, family, from $570 to $600; and associate memberships, individual, from $355 to $375. Tennis memberships, after 12, property owners and residents: Family, increased from $125 to $130; individual, $75 to $80; associate memberships, family, $145 to $150; and associate memberships, individual, from $85 to $90. Platform tennis: Individuals, increased from $110 to $115; and families, from $170 to $180. Golf memberships, property owners and residents: Family, increased from $2,100 to $2,205; individual, from $1,200 to $1,260. Associate memberships, family, from $2,310 to $2,425; individual, from $1320 to $1,385. Golf memberships, under 40, property owners and residents: Individual only, $630; associate, individual, $695. Golf memberships, after 12 p.m., property owners and residents: Family, increased from $1,250 to $1,310; individual, $800 to $840. Associate memberships, family, $1,375 to $1,445; individual, $880 to $925. Golf memberships, after 12 p.m., 40 and older, property owners and residents: Individual, $420. Associate, individual, $460. No family memberships offered in this category. Golf cart rates and packages: no proposed increase. Weekly memberships would remain at $150 for families and $60 for individuals, with three-day memberships remaining at $75 for families and$30 for individuals. Beach Club parking would also remain as is. For families and individuals without other amenity membership, the parking pass would continue to cost $160, including four Beach Club pool ID cards. Annual parking passes for those with some sort of annual amenity membership would continue to cost $55, for both individuals and families. Weekly and three-day passes are available only for days specified.


24 Ocean Pines PROGRESS

January-Early February 2013

Discussion of Section 3 drainage solution dominates meeting on Pine Shore purchase General manager says 99-acre site just north of Ocean Pines probably won’t be needed to solve drainage problems, as another solution devised by County Commissioner Jim Bunting has emerged By TOM STAUSS Publisher Dec. 4 town meeting ostensibly called to disclose details about the Ocean Pines Association’s offer earlier this year to purchase the 99-acre Pines Shore North property on Beauchamp Road just north of Ocean Pines was dominated by Ocean Pines Association General Manager Bob Thompson’s detailed discussion of potential solutions to Section 3 drainage issues. It was well into the town meeting presentation that Thompson made clear the connection between the two: The $1.49 million purchase offer the OPA made for the Pine Shore property, recently rescinded by a 7-0 board action in executive session, was initially prompted by an ongoing effort to find a solution to drainage problems in Section 3. Thompson had made a similar linkage during the OPA board of director’s meeting Nov. 28. He used the occasion of the town meeting, called at the request of OPA President Tom Terry, to provide detailed background on a variety of solutions to the Section 3 drainage problems, one of which included purchase of the Pine Shore property. Ostensibly, he said the purpose of the town meeting was to “dispel rumors by sharing facts” about the rescinded offer to purchase the Pine Shore golf property and also to solicit “input from our membership” about the possibility of purchasing the property. The recent 7-0 vote to rescind the purchase offer the property left open the possibility of negotiations should the bank that owns the Pine Shore property, Cecil Bank, drop its asking price below $1.7 million. The ostensibly purpose of buying the property to help resolve Section 3 drainage has since has been overtaken by events: Worcester County Commissioner Jim Bunting, whose Northern District includes the Section 3 neighborhoods that are often under water after heavy rains, discovered another way to solve the drainage issue, the possible installation of a new drainage pipe that would carry stormwater away from the affected areas in Ocean Pines. The new 36-inch drain pipe would extend under Beauchamp Road and connect up to a stormwater retention pond in the nearby River Run community. That pond in turn drains into the St. Martin’s River. Awaiting final written approval for the installation of the new drain pipe on River Run property from the community’s developer, Lew Meltzer, whose subdivision adjoins the bank-owned Pine Shore, the Bunting-devised solution is far less costly than the other options, perhaps costing even less than $100,000. Thompson and the county-OPA working group, of which he is a member, had

A

looked at solutions that in some cases would have cost more than a $1 million. One such option looked at doubling the size of the Bainbridge Park pond. Thompson said that possibility was rejected because “you can’t build a pond large enough” to hold captured run-off. In addition, he said he is not keen on losing park space that is located anywhere in Ocean Pines. Another option involved running a drainage pine down the full

length of Beauchamp Road to White Horse Campground. The River Run solution suggested by Bunting has the benefit of probably being able to deal with the flooding caused by a 100-year storm, defined as a weather event producing up to 6.4-inches of rain in an hour, Bunting said during the town meeting. It would be more than adequate to drain heavy rains from a two-year, ten-year, and 25-year storms

OCEAN PINES of lesser intensity, he said. Bunting is a former surveyor and land planner who dealt with such issues during his professional career. If his solution proves to be workable, and Bunting seemed cautiously optimistic about it during the town meeting as he praised Meltzer for his spirit of cooperation, then Thompson said it would no longer be necessary to purchase the Pine Shore property as a solution to Section 3’s drainage woes. During his presentation, the general manager provided some details about the Pine Shore property. He said it carries E-1 (estate) zoning, could be developed with single-family homes of roughly two-acres in size, with a 47-lot maximum, and the bank so far has not come off its asking price of $1.7 million.

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January-Early February 2013 Ocean Pines PROGRESS

25

GENERAL ASSEMBLY PREVIEW

Finances and firearms likely to top legislative agenda By ROTA L. KNOTT Contributing Writer orcester County’s representatives in the Maryland legislature headed back to work in Annapolis during the first week of January for the 2013 session of the General Assembly, which is expected to include debates about increasing spending, increasing the gas tax and gun control. Prior to the Jan. 9 start of the session, District 38B Delegates Michael McDermott and Norman Conway and District 38 Senator James Mathias attended a plethora of legislative preview events designed to give community members and business leaders an idea of what their elected officials will be working on during the next three months. Conway, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said the state’s financial picture is likely to again be a dominant topic. “We have been through a very, very tough period in this state,� he said, adding that the state’s financial picture is improving but still needs work. “I think we’ve done a reasonable job. Is everything perfect? No. Are there things we have to change? Yes.� Conway said legislators will have to continue working to eliminate the state’s structural deficit, which has been reduced from $2.1 billion to $421 million already. Still, he said, the state is going to have to look at its spending and “have to control it.� An increase in the gas tax is also likely to surface again as part of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s budget. But, Conway said that is “not what rural areas need.� He said much of the gas tax is already paid by residents of rural counties and yet the revenue is largely spent to keep the mass transit systems operating in metropolitan areas. Instead of increasing the gas tax to boost revenue, he said the state needs to find a funding mechanism for mass transit from the areas it serves. Mathias agreed that the budget and state spending will consume a large part of this legislative session. He added that he will be looking for ways to make Maryland more business friendly in order to boost the economy and create jobs. “Hey look, we’re on the short end of the stick sometimes.� Mathias said of the Eastern Shore. Still, he said, he’s looking forward to the new session. McDermott said he hopes that the scope of any new regulations will be limited during this session so the state can “stop and see� the impact of what has already been done. He said that Maryland needs to cap its approval of new regulations “before every single business moves out of state.� He said it is going to be a challenge to determine how far to allow state government to expand in local authority. He said the “Eastern Shore is nothing but a park for the Western Shore to come here and enjoy.�

W

Delegate Michael McDermott

Senator James Mathias

Delegate Norman Conway

He was non-committal about supporting stricter gun control measures, saying to his constituents only that “I’m paying attention and protecting your rights as well.� He said he had a permit to carry a gun when he moved to the shore and worked in the video game business. But he allowed it to expire because he “had a sense of security here.� In a pre-session statement, McDermott said he will introduce legislation in the House of Delegates that will authorize a Maryland school district to implement a “guardian� program, whereby certain staffers in the schools can carry concealed firearms. He said these trained individuals “represent a vigilant line of defense for those we must protect.� He said the bill will also allow for Taser style weapons to be issued to select personnel within a school and authorize those who have conceal-Carry Permits, along with active or retired law enforcement officers, to carry those fire-

McDermott said the economy of both the state and the shore has to grow. He said the only way that will happen is if “wealthy people come here and grow businesses� that in turn create jobs for locals. Conway said regulations are implemented many times as reactionary measures. “When one doesn’t follow the rules, everybody gets hammered,� he said. Mathias said he is dedicated to fighting for state funding to continue the widening to four lanes of Route 113 in Worcester County. He said he has already spoken with O’Malley about the need for funding for the next phase of the ongoing dualization and will work with his fellow legislators to try to ensure that the project moves forward. In the wake of the recent school shootings in Connecticut, Mathias said the issues of gun control and mental health care improvements will likely be hot topics.

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arms on the campus of a public school. “Preparing our children to take their place in civil society is the responsibility of parents. Teachers, mentors, and the rest of society can only reinforce what parents are instilling. There are some who advocate taking certain guns from responsible citizens while simultaneously letting junior play the most hellish video games available night and day,� McDermott said. Dealing with the societal and mental health issues that lead to tragedies like school shootings are critical, Mathias said. McDermott also said that the way mental health issues and options are viewed must be changed. “We closed the doors on institutions during the 1980s only to provide no alternatives. The results surround us, and it is politically incorrect to even discuss the issues.� He said automatic and semi automatic weapons and schools have each existed for 100 years. “It’s only been in recent history that we have seen those two things collide,� he said. Conway said the structure of families and social morals have changed with time. “You’ll never connect it all. You can’t get inside people’s heads,� he said. Conway clearly stated that he is a supporter of the second amendment rights of citizens. However, he said that he does not know why anyone would need a rapid fire weapon or clip with 30 bullets. “I think there are some areas that ought to be thoroughly discussed,� he said.

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Commissioners approve capital improvement plan

The Worcester County Commissioners on Dec. 4 approved a $112 million capital improvement plan for fiscal years 2013 to 2017. County Budget Officer Kathy Whited said that of the $112 million in proposed projects that are scheduled to be completed during the next five years about $15 million of 12.75 percent of the revenue is proposed to come from the general fund. She said another $58 million or 54 percent will be bonded. The remaining $39 million will come from user fees, grant funds, state matching funds, state loans or enterprise fund bonds. Whited said that inclusion of a project in the five-year capital improvement plan does not necessarily mean it will be completed any time soon. The commissioners must still grant individual project approval as funds become available. One of the largest expenditures included in the plan is for school construction. In FY 2014 the county will need to bond money for the Snow Hill High School project at $44.9 million. However, the funding is spread over several years in the capital improvement plan.

Smartphone app added for wine trail

WORCESTER COUNTY

January-Early February 2013

The Worcester County Office of Tourism has added a mobile smartphone app to its “Toast Our Coast” Wine and Ale Trail on the Delmarva Peninsula. The

app provides maps and directions to each participating winery and brewery, as well as an area map, contact information and hours of operation for each site, and an events listing and information about the area. The “Toast Our Coast” app takes advantage of the smartphone’s geo-location capabilities, as well as the ability to call any of the participant locations with a tap of the screen, to keep a list of favorite establishments on the phone, and to share the app directly with friends via text message, email, or over social media like Facebook and Twitter. Worcester County Tourism Director Lisa Challenger worked with the mobile app development company AppCreatorPro, based in Huntingtown Md., to provide this resource. “The ‘Toast Our Coast’ website has been a very popular way to introduce visitors to the marvelous wineries and brew pubs of the Delmarva Peninsula,” says Challenger. “When we learned that we could extend that experience to the mobile phones that people have with them while out exploring, the idea of an app seemed like the logical next step.” Visitors can access the app from toastourcoast.com or by snapping the app’s QR code directly onto their phones. Delmarva’s Wine and Ale Trail promotes the 11 wineries and seven breweries that span Delmarva and are located

in Maryland, Delaware and Virginia.

Christmas tree collection continues

Worcester County’s Solid Waste Division will collect Christmas trees through Jan. 20. Trees can be dropped off at the Central Landfill in Newark and the Berlin, Pocomoke and Snow Hill transfer stations at no cost to area residents only. Businesses and organizations that sold trees are not permitted to drop off trees at the convenience centers, but may take them to the Central Landfill and pay applicable tipping fees. The trees will be ground into mulch for use as cover at the Central Landfill.

County honored for financial reporting

Worcester County Government received an award and a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for the fourth consecutive year from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada. The GFOA recognizes contributions to the practice of government finance that exemplify outstanding financial management, and WCG was honored with this recognition for its comprehensive annual financial report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012. The Certificate of Achievement is

the highest form of recognition awarded to local governments in the area of accounting and financial reporting. The CAFR was judged by an impartial panel to meet the high standards of the program, including demonstrating a constructive spirit of full disclosure to clearly communicate its financial story and motivate potential users and user groups to read the CAFR. “During these ongoing turbulent economic times, the county endeavors to clearly communicate its financial condition,” Finance Officer Harold Higgins said. “Receiving this GFOA award for a fourth consecutive year is an indication that the County continues to communicate financial matters to maintain public accountability. This award recognizes that effort.”

Recreation areas, parks are now smoke free

Tobacco use is being banned in all structures at Worcester County’s parks and recreation areas as well as within 100 yards of any organized activity held at those facilities. The areas where smoking and other tobacco use is being banned include spectator areas, rest rooms, concession stands and playgrounds. The Worcester County Commissioners on Jan. 2 agreed to amend the park regulations at the request of the Department of Recreation and Parks. In a letter to the commissioners, Recq

26 Ocean Pines PROGRESS

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From Page 26 reation Director Paige Hurley said the staff “believes they have a responsibility to protect the health and safety of our community’s children and adults while they utilize Worcester County’s recreation and park facilities, and adopting the tobacco-free policy is part of this responsibility.” Hurley said community groups that use the facilities were contacted by his staff for input and supported the move to a tobacco free environment. Parks and recreation facilities where the policy change will take effect include Showell, Bishopville, Greys Creek Nature, Whaleyville, Isle of Wight Nature, Herring Creek Nature, Home Gudelsky parks in northern Worcester County. Tobacco products that are being banned include cigarettes, cigars, pipes, snuff and spit tobacco.

Commissioners ignore travel ban for conference

Despite an ongoing ban on out-ofstate travel for county employees, the Worcester County Commissioners on Jan. 2 approved a request to spend more than $2,400 to send one employee to Las Vegas. With Commissioners Jim Bunting opposed and Commissioner Louise Gulyas absent from the meeting, the commissioners agreed to allow Economic Development Director Bill Badger to travel to Sin City for the International Council of Shopping Centers, Global Retail Real Estate Convention from May 19 to 22. “This conference is the premier event for the encouragement of retail development in the country,” Badger said in his request for travel. “As you know, there is tremendous development potential on Route 50 in West Ocean City, Ocean Pines and our communities of Berlin, Snow Hill and Pocomoke City.”

January-Early February 2013 Ocean Pines PROGRESS

27

School board establishes goals for budget process By ROTA L. KNOTT Contributing Writer

T

he Worcester County Board of Education during its Dec. 18 monthly meeting approved a series of budget goals to use as a guide when developing the 2013-2014 school system operating budget. Based on the school system’s master plan, accreditation goals, and input from parents, students, and community members, the board established six budget goals. The first goal is to graduate college and career ready students that perform at high levels on Maryland State Assessments and High School Assessments, and demonstrate growth annually. Other goals are to maintain class size ratios necessary to educate all children with high expectations, provide competitive salaries and benefits to attract and retain a high quality workforce and maintain school buildings and facilities so they remain safe, efficient and clean. The last two goals are to ensure that students and teachers have the materials, texts, technology and equipment needed for instruction and to improve teaching and learning by providing professional development and growth opportunities for all staff. Also during the meeting a group of students from Ocean City Elementary School explained how the “Stand up! Speak Up” Bullying Prevention Program at OCES is helping to reduce bullying behavior by empowering victims and bystanders with specific strategies to use when confronted with bullying. The program is based on the research that shows that the key to eliminating bullying is in empowering children and adults to stand up and speak up for themselves and others when confronted with bullying. OCES students who participated in the presentation were Charlotte Edmunds, Chelsea VanVonno,

Frances Baptiste, Gavin Conner, Allison Marx, Zak Krasner and Jabria Lewis. Studies have shown that more than one-half the time bullying stops within 10 seconds of a bystander stepping in to help. The goal of the program is to directly teach the students and colleagues the strategies they need to demonstrate positive leadership as bystanders. Joe Price, facilities planner, reviewed the process for interviewing construction management firms for the Snow Hill High School renovation and addition project. Based on his recommendation, the school board awarded the contract for construction management services for the project to Oak Contracting. Shirleen Church, coordinator of instruction, and Chris Welch, assistant principal, reported on a new cohort program, Building a Bridge to College Summit Program, for selected students in grades 8 to 12. The focus of this program is to promote academic excellence in areas that are underrepresented by minority students as well as other students, and to provide opportunities for all students to reach their full potential and demonstrate postsecondary readiness through college acceptance. According to Church, school systems data has shown there are talented students who need additional support and attention to guarantee they reach their academic potential. This program will put support systems in place in the middle and high schools and close those achievement gaps. In November the school board reviewed three calendar proposals for the 2013-2014 school year that were developed by a committee composed of students, parents, teachers and administrators. These proposals differ in the length of vacations, dates for professional development, and marking period

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schedules. These proposals are being sent to all county schools to obtain additional input and reactions from students, staff, parents and the community. This information will be compiled and presented for action by the board at its February meeting. Jerry Wilson, superintendent of schools, reviewed a request from the Maryland Association of Boards of Education to the local school board to adopt a resolution urging Congress and the Obama Administration to amend the Budget Control Act to avoid the drastic cuts to education funding that would result from sequestration. Sequestration refers to the acrossthe-board cut of approximately 8 percent in federal discretionary spending which is mandated to take effect in 2013. It will occur if Congress does not enact a plan to reduce the national debt by $1.2 trillion in the coming decade. The school board adopted the resolution as presented. Also during the meeting, Marlyn Barrett, coordinator of science instruction, and Judy Rutkiewic, coordinator of early childhood instruction, reported on the Maryland initiative “Every Child Every Year.” The program ensures that every student receives a meaningful outdoor experience every year they are in a public school. Professional development

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January-Early February 2013

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CAPTAIN’S COVE By TOM STAUSS Publisher he Virginia State Corporation Commission has issued a final ruling in the long-running rate case involving the Captain’s Cove Utility Company and the fees it charges its water and wastewater treatment customers. The ruling, posted on the commission’s Web site in mid-December, occurred roughly a month after the CCUC filed a request for an expedited review of the case. Under the approved rate structure, some customers are entitled to a refund of some fees it paid under an interim rate structure, with the CCUC given 150 days from the date of the order to issue them. But the commission apparently rejected the company’s previous request for retroactive collection of other fees. CCUC President Tim Hearn told the Progress in December that he and his associates had never expected the commission to grant the request for retroactivity. Under the new structure, water customers will be paying $40.86 per month and water availability customers will be paying $6.21 per month. Wastewater customers, a much smaller percentage of the CCUC revenue stream, will be paying $56.40 per month, with wastewater availability customers assessed $18.65 per month. Since February of 2011, the company has been operating under an interim rate structure, $30 a month each for water and sewer usage and $15 each

T

State Corporation Commission approves revised rate structure for Captain’s Cove Utility Co. Some residents will be granted refunds under the new tariff, but there will be no retroactive imposition of higher rates for water and sewer availability. These rates have been billed quarterly, with a portion of the collected funds held in escrow. Those escrowed funds have been effectively released for use by the utility company, for the purpose of issuing refunds to water availability customers. The approved rates are less than those that had been requested by the CCUC, which had asked for $42.07 in monthly water rates and $6.40 in monthly water availability rates, along with $$62.55 in wastewater user fees and $20.69 in wastewater fees/ Water availability customers will be entitled to a refund of rates paid since February of 2011 under the new rate structure, the difference between the old rate, $15, and the new rate of $6.21, plus interest. That works out to $8.79 per month for the period between February of 2011 and December of 2012. Because wastewater customers also buy water from the utility company, their total monthly fees are now over $100 per month, which actually is some-

what higher than rates paid by Ocean Pines ratepayers for similar services, depending on water usage. Individual homes in Ocean Pines are metered, something that Hearn intends for the CCUC as soon as possible. Financial restatements – Following up on previous statements from Hearn as the newly elected president of the Captain’s Cove property owners association, the board of directors during its December meeting heard reports from its new accounting firm, L&H Consultants, on the extent to which previous financial information had been inac-

School board From Page 27 related to “Every Child Every Year” has been provided to teachers in grades 1 to 8 and students have participated in various activities and workshops this year. Vince Tolbert, chief financial officer for the school system, reviewed the fiscal year 2012 Federal Programs Audit that was performed by an independent public accounting firm. For the fiscal year ended June 30, 2012, the audit was performed by TGM Group, LLC and found that federal fund expenditures supported student programs and services that totaled $9.8 million. The audit also stated there were no findings and that the school system is in full compliance with all federal grant award program requirements. Price reported on a new minority participation sub-goal direction from the Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs that causes a revision from the previous minority participation sub-goals from 7 percent African American and

29

curately reported for the recently completed fiscal year. The financials have been restated to correct the inaccuracies, Hearn said. For those interested, supporting documentation has been posted on the association’s Facebook page, accessible from its Web site. Vehicle purchases – Normally the purchase of new vehicles by a property owners association is routine, but the board’s approval of $166,000 in new vehicle purchases in December dealt with what Hearn described as an unsettling discovery during a recent inventory. The association’s new director of maintenance, roads and security, Rob Giard, discovered that several vehicles in the Cove fleet had been effectively scrapped, because they effectively undrivable. Insurance payments had continued on these vehicles, Hearn said. “It was an example of waste, abuse and indifference,” he added. The new purchases include a light pick-up truck, two heavy-duty trucks with snow plough attachments, as well as a dump truck. 10 percent women-owned businesses to 7 percent African American and 4 percent Asian American owned businesses. The board reviewed and approved the revised Policy V-B-6 Minority Business Enterprise Policy for State Funded Public School Construction Projects. The school board also recently recognized several students and staff for special achievements. Students Daniel Beck, Kevin Fang, Joseph Iacona were recognized for their participation in the 29th annual Eastern Shore High School Mathematics Competition at Salisbury University and achieving first place recognition as members of the Stephen Decatur High School Mathematics Team. Patricia A. Hultquist was recognized for earning National Board Certification, an achievement that reflects mastery through intensive study, expert evaluation, self-assessment, and peer review. Rick Stephens, WTHS teacher, was recognized for receiving the 2012-2013 SkillsUSA Maryland Advisor of the Year.

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30 Ocean Pines PROGRESS

January-Early February 2013

COMMENTARY

OCEAN PINES

Avoiding an assessment increase wouldn’t be difficult hardships in the OPA membership from an economy that, locally, is still far from robust. To be sure, $43 per year seems, on the face of it, unlikely to push many Ocean Pines property owners off the cliff of insolvency. But it’s equally true that, were sensitivity to financial hardship the primary driver behind next year’s budget, it’s unlikely there would be any increase in the assessment. Of the $43 increase, $26 is associated with the fifth year of the so-called fiveyear funding plan for major capital

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projects, with $4 of it earmarked for retirement of prior year operating deficits, and another $3 to self-finance this year’s golf drainage project. The remaining $10 is related to the operational side of the budget, more or less to finance modest increases in salary and payroll costs throughout the organization. A comparison of the proposed budget with the current year’s spending plan and the latest forecasts reveals that the proposed budget represents roughly $400,000 in increased operational spending over what will be spent in current fiscal year. Compared to what was originally authorized when the current year’s budget was adopted in February, however, what Thompson is proposing barely registers as an increase. It’s a fact that revenues from certain amenities – golf the most prominent – haven’t yielded what the original budget predicted. Indeed, there are indications that the OPA this year will produce a $350,000 operating deficit, driven almost entirely by golf operations that will be $500,000 in the red. Golf revenue simply didn’t materialize as course managers had predicted. Simply put, had golf performed more or less on budget, what looks like a challenging year financially would have

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yielded the OPA’s fourth consecutive operating surplus. Maybe golf will turn around next year, once the green replacement program and the current golf drainage project is completed. It would appear that Billy Casper Golf, Ocean Pines’ golf course manager, is teed up for the final year of a three-year contract, during which the company will be expected to deliver on a $150,000 operating deficit the company has forecast for itself. That would represent a $350,000 turn-around from this year’s dismal financials. Doable, let us all hope: The alternative is almost too dire to contemplate. Reducing the golf deficit to a more manageable level did not obviate the need for an assessment increase from OPA’s management’s point of view. So how could it be avoided? Some Ocean Pines directors and some members of the Budget and Finance Committee will no doubt target that $400,000 increase in operational spending, doubling down on previous efforts to ask OPA employees to pay more of their health and retirement costs, for instance. The real money, though, is in that five-year funding plan component, and therein lies the opportunity to trim the proposed assessment increase. Rather than allocate $26 of the assessment increase to the OPA’s major replacement and maintenance reserve, directors could opt to allocate $13, with another $13 in 2015, effectively stretching the roll-out of the five-year funding plan to a sixth year. The long-term impact on revenue flows would be negligible and easily absorbed. Seriously. That action would keep the assessment increase at $30, what most directors assumed it would be when they adopted budget guidance earlier in the cycle. Beyond that, it would be possible to adopt a budget with no assessment increase, aborting or at least postponing the fifth year of the five-year funding plan until the OPA has a better idea on precisely what these revenues will be used for in the coming years. The OPA should be very reluctant to continue to increase assessments related to major capital replacement until such time as an updated, realistic and accurate “racking and stacking” of projects is produced and voted on by the board. Once that “racking and stacking” is produced, policy-makers should have a much clearer idea on what the OPA bigticket expenditures will be over the next ten years and how much will be needed in financial resources to pay for it all. Four years of the five-year funding

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t wouldn’t be difficult for the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors to avoid an assessment increase next year, if the will is there. It would be even easier to trim it back to $30, the number associated with a five-year plan to raise funds to deal with Ocean Pines’ aging inventory of facilities. General Manager Bob Thompson’s proposed $43 increase in assessments is not entirely consistent with the statement in his executive summary that asserts sensitivity to continuing


OPINION January-Early February 2013 OPINION

WORCESTER COUNTY

Ocean Pines PROGRESS

31

‘Reining in’ Marty Clarke won’t be happening anytime soon

O

ne take-away from the recent troubles on the OPA board regarding Director Marty Clarke and his sometimes intemperate voice on a range of vexing issues is that “reining him in” won’t be happening anytime soon. He is entitled to his points of view, should be free to express them, and if he sometimes expresses them in ways his colleagues find less than congenial, they are free to disregard them. Or to counter them. To raise their voices in public protest if they believe he has crossed some line of propriety. Or vote to remove him from the board if they believe his actions warrant it under the loose and ill-defined standard of “cause” referred to in the OPA bylaws. Once OPA President Tom Terry and others were made aware that a board “code of conduct” was repealed back in 2008 or 2009, precisely to avoid the sort of circus that has occurred in this instance, the wiser course would have been simply to stop the investigation in its tracks and move on to issues that actually matter and require board involvement. If indeed reining him in was the real objective in authorizing OPA general counsel Joe Moore to “investigate” Clarke for public remarks that some of his colleagues found offensive, the outcome of that probe suggests that the exercise was a waste of association dollars. The next day after the board sans Clarke met ostensibly in closed session to discuss Moore’s written report on the results of his so-called investigation, there was Clarke in attendance during

COMMENTARY From Page 30

plan, together with revenue streams related to historical depreciation, still produces healthy amounts of money flowing into reserves. Capping it after four years, or pushing out the fifth year to year six, hardly puts OPA’s financial health at risk. – Tom Stauss

LIFE IN THE LIFE INPINES THE PINES delegated to by-ways Billy Casper under a threeAn excursion through the curious cul-de-sacs An excursion through the curious and by-ways and cul-d year contract set to expire this year, by a LIFE IN THE of Worcester County’s County’s most densely populated community. LIFE INPINES THE PINES of Worcester most densely populated com previous board of directors).

An excursion through the curious by-ways cul-de-sacs An excursion through theTOM curious by-ways and cul-de-sacs Publisher By STAUSS/ PublisherSo how are we really doing? Who’s By and TOM STAUSS/ of Worcester County’s County’s most densely community. of Worcester mostpopulated densely populated community. right? In a way, both are, and both versions of reality are plausible, credible, By TOM STAUSS/ By TOM Publisher STAUSS/Publisher the public unveiling of Thompson’s proposed budget for next year. Unbowed, uncowed, as if nothing had happened. In one sense, nothing had. Certainly no reprimand and no indication at all that any director was prepared to proceed with the nuclear option, a proposal to expel Clarke from the board. Nor does there appear to be any appetite at all for resurrecting the code of conduct, which might at least undergird some future effort to rein in Clarke, or remove him, should he continue to roam off the reservation, as he most surely will. The past, as the cliche says, often is prologue. When Thompson during his budget preview tried to paint what for Clarke was far too rosy a picture of OPA financial performance during Thompson’s tenure, Clarke let loose with one of his characteristic explosions. He more or less accused the general manager of lying, or at least of distorting financial results in recent years. So much for reining in Mr. Clarke. If anything, being investigated and found innocent of wrongdoing -- or at least innocent of violating any explicit provision in the byalws -- might even embolden him in the future. Based on his explosive response during Thompson’s budget preview, it’s clear Clarke is convinced that Thompson is not just spinning happy talk about OPA financial performance from fiscal years 2010 through 2012. It’s clear Clarke believes there’s been a pattern of deliberate distortion. Exhibit A for Clarke is one of the town meetings in the run-up to the Yacht Club referendum in which the general manager presented numbers purporting to show that amenities are a net positive financially

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for the association, bringing in more cash than they do in outgo. Not so, says Clarke, and he is locked and loaded with all sort of financial data to prove it. Thompson is similarly locked and loaded, sometimes with the same numbers, only spun in a way that tells a different story. For instance, Thompson contrasted the three fiscal years of 2010 through 2012 as a net positive operationally, in contrast to the three previous years, in which a substantial operating deficit was accumulated. Thata journal deficit of is the The Ocean Pines Progress, proximate the OPA has a deficit news and reason commentary, is published recovery reserve in the which we’re trying monthly throughout year. It is to recoup the losses from those that precirculated in Ocean Pines, Berlin, West ceded Thompson’s tenure. Ocean City, Snow Hill, Ocean City and The IRS pay-out, which in no way Capain’s Cove,Va. can be laid at Thompson’s feet, reduced Letters and other editorial submissions: the 2010-2012 operating surplus by Please submit via email only. We do not $500,000. accept faxes or submissions that require In contrast to Thompson’s attempt retyping. Letters should be original and with to contrast the first three years exclusive the Progress. Include to phone the lattertothree, in attempt prove a positive trend, Clarke adds all six years together. The result isn’t so good, a loss that, with the IRS payout included, is 127 Nottingham Lane, somewhere approaching a million dolOcean Pines, MD lars, especially if depreciation is thrown in the mix (it’s a real, funded cost to PUBLISHER/EDITOR PUBLISHER/EDITOR association members, though perhaps Stauss Tom Stauss seen as anTom expense outside normal optstauss1@mchsi.com erations.) tstauss1@mchsi.com 410-641-6029 To Clarke, the point isn’t the trend of 410-641-6029 the past three years, but the result over Advertising the past six.Advertising Which brings us to the current fisART DIRECTOR cal year, 2013, with ART DIRECTOR Rota Knottan expected deficit of $350,000, more or less brought Hugh Dougherty about by a projected $500,000 loss in CONTRIBUTING golf operations. To Clarke, it’s a sign of CONTRIBUTING WRITER Armegedon.WRITERS To Thompson, it’s fixable, Rota Knott Knott his direct area but a challenge outside Ginny Reister of responsibility (golf ops having been Inkwellmedia@comcast.net

and worthy of consideration by policy-makers and association members who care about it. Thompson and Clarke are masters of spin. The truth probably lies in the middle, borrowing some from here and some from there.

The Ocean Pines Progress, a journal of news and commentary, is published monthly throughout the year. It is circulated in Ocean Pines, Berlin, West Ocean City, Snow Hill, Ocean City and Capain’s Cove,Va. Letters and other editorial submissions: Please submit via email only. We do not accept faxes or submissions that require retyping. Letters should be original and exclusive to the Progress. Include phone

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$

COST LE$$

Local Trade, Low Miles, Clean

Local Trade, 1 Owner, Clean, Low Miles

Local Trade, 1 Owner, Clean

$

get 1.9% AnD 100k mile Warranty

‘05 hyunDAi tuCSon

11,995 Local Trade, 1 Owner, Clean, Low Miles

$

‘05 hyunDAi tuCSon

Local Trade, 1 Owner, Clean, Low Miles

get 1.9% nADA AnD 100k Warranty retailmile $16,000

11,995 $13,995 nADA retail $16,000

8,675

$

$

‘0513,995 hyunDAi tuCSon $

‘01 merCeDeS SLk230 Conv.

Local Trade, 1gmC Owner, Clean 1 Owner, Clean, Low Miles 1 Owner, Local Trade ‘04 SierrA 1500 4x4 Local ‘01Trade, merCeDeS SLk230 Conv. Local Trade, 1 Owner, Extra Clean, Cap Local Trade, 1 Owner, Clean Local Trade, 1 Owner, Extra Clean, Cap

Local Trade, 1 Owner, Clean

8,675

$

‘06 jeep WrAngLer

‘06 jeepLocal WrAngLer Trade, Extra Clean, Low Miles

Local Trade, Extra Clean, Low Miles

nADA get 1.9% AnDretail 100k$16,000 mile Warranty

$8,675 11,995 13,995 $10,995 $16,995 11,995 10,995 16,995 11,995 view our entire inventory online 24/7 at Tax & tags ‘01 merCeDeS SLk230 Conv. ‘06 jeep WrAngLer view our entire inventory online 24/7 at ‘05 hyunDAi tuCSon not included. $ $ $

$

Tax & tags not included.

$

$


January-Early February 2013