Pines budget request did no harm, some good
Posted On: 3/24/16
The unofficial report this week is that the Worcester County Commissioners canceled this year’s cordial wine-and-dine get-together with the Ocean Pines Board of Directors because they weren’t feeling so cordial after hearing the community’s surprising request for much more county financial support that what it normally receives every year. The official report, meanwhile, is the commissioners are just a little busier now than they were this time last year and that everything is fine. Regardless of what’s accurate and what isn’t, the question has been raised whether Ocean Pine representatives should have asked for a $700,000 increase in the county’s allocation to its community. The short answer would be, “why not?” If the commissioners really were miffed by the unexpected surge is the size of the community’s request, the fact remains that not asking in order to maintain a friendly relationship doesn’t put anything new in the...» Click here for the full story.
Drilling ban good for all
Posted On: 3/17/16
It’s rare in these tumultuous times that news comes out of Washington that doesn’t generate a divided response from the public, but that was the case with the announcement Tuesday by the Department of the Interior that offshore exploration for oil will not be taking place in the southeastern section of the Atlantic Ocean. When Department Secretary Sally Jewell announced the decision to drop from the five-year energy plan the idea of leasing drilling rights off the coast, she said it didn’t make sense to put economic activities such as fishing and tourism at risk. Even though the waters off Maryland were already excluded from the oil lease proposal, the sector just south, off Virginia, was part of the program and that’s close enough to pose a big risk to this area should an accident occur. Obviously, crude oil slicks would not be washing up into the inland communities of Ocean Pines or Berlin in the event of a spill or other catastrophe, but the ec...» Click here for the full story.
Is county shorting OPA?
Posted On: 3/10/16
Ocean Pines Association General Manager Bob Thompson made a good point in the association’s request last week for a major increase in the amount of money Worcester County government gives it in the county’s annual allocation to communities. Of the five major residential areas — Pocomoke, Snow Hill, Berlin, Ocean City, and Ocean Pines, the latter gets less per capita than any of the others, even though it has the largest population. While Ocean City deserves and receives the largest check from the county, because it produces far more real estate tax revenues than the other communities, there is no reason Ocean Pines should be at the bottom of the county’s list of financial beneficiaries. Its real estate tax base, which pales next to the billions of dollars on which Ocean City is taxed, has to compare favorably to that of other Worcester communities, since it has more homes than any other Worcester community. In addition, because it has the most year-round hous...» Click here for the full story.
For voters, how it happens not as important as results
Posted On: 3/3/16
The problem with government is that most people don’t care who’s in charge, as long as they get what they want, while elected officials concern themselves first with who’s in charge and then worry about the results. Were that not the case, the nation wouldn’t be witnessing the huge mess that is Congress, which devotes almost all of its time to developing strategies to do nothing, or this year’s presidential campaign, which has swung so far to extremes that more pragmatic Republicans and Democrats must be wondering exactly when it was that their parties moved on without them. On the local level, however, nothing illustrates the procedure-versus-results debate more than last week’s meeting of the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors. It’s difficult to tell whether anyone was right or wrong in the discussion of building new bathrooms at White Horse Park or the recommendations regarding the association’s investment strategy. ThatR...» Click here for the full story.
M. Day, Pocomoke River key to Snow Hill growth
Posted On: 2/25/16
Where Michael Day goes, the resurgence flows. Or so it would surely appear, given the turn his latest project is taking. Day, who supposedly retired last year as the director of economic development for Berlin, took on the revitalization of the Town of Snow Hill as – one might assume — something to keep him occupied as he winds down from the working world. That assumption, however, would be wrong, as he is in the thick of a plan to restore Snow Hill’s vitality by making it a commercially successful destination, just like he helped Berlin do the same over the past several years. In this instance, however, he and others are capitalizing on the county seat’s premier attraction, the Pocomoke River, which eases along the perimeter of the town on its way to the Chesapeake. Although the river begins its 66-mile trip to the bay up in the Delaware swamps, Snow Hill is the first convenient — and most easily navigated — jumping off point. Focusing on that ...» Click here for the full story.
Electric hike not shocking
Posted On: 2/18/16
The flap over Berlin’s electric rate miscue turned out to be somewhat less exciting than the major municipal malfunction it originally appeared to be. This was a case of a misunderstanding between town officials and Booth & Associates, the company with which it contracts to advise it on the operation 0f its electric utility. That advice includes telling the town when it needs to fire up its generators to put power back into the grid to avoid paying peak prices to its provider via a process called “peak shaving.” That didn’t happen, according to town officials, because Booth apparently thought these peak-shaving opportunities occurred only in the summer and didn’t have one in November included in its schedule. The result, as everyone now knows, was that Berlin consumers paid what they would have owed under optimum circumstances instead of what they truly owed at that peak rate. That was, by all admissions, a bad and costly mistake, especially consid...» Click here for the full story.
Traffic could jam future
Posted On: 2/11/16
Palmer Gillis, of Gillis Gilkerson, the builder and developer of the Delmarva Health Pavilion in Ocean Pines, has a point. Although he refrained from saying it bluntly when he met with residents last Friday to discuss his project’s traffic flow problems, that facility is there to stay, like it or not. That won’t be the end of it either, as more will happen on that parcel over time, whether his company does it or it’s some future owner who figures out a way to get a better return on the investment. How the pavilion got there, whether Gillis Gilkerson should have purchased the property in the first place and what anyone said or didn’t say two or three years ago going into the project is irrelevant. That’s history and the issue now is how to address the future in a way that’s at least tolerable for everyone involved. There’s no reason to doubt Gillis when he said if the project’s ingress and egress issues can’t be resolved, he would...» Click here for the full story.
Bargain of assessments
Posted On: 2/4/16
The release this week of the Ocean Pines Association reserve study, coupled with comments made by General Manager Bob Thompson at his town hall meeting Saturdy, should provide residents with plenty to think about — and argue over — should they be so inclined. The reserve study, conducted by Design Management Associates Inc. of Richmond, Virginia, concluded the OPA has about 25 percent of what it needs to maintain its common properties over the course of a 30-year period. Among other things, that assumption is based on the desire to build enough of a cushion to avoid hitting association members with a dramatic increase in their assessments should something serious occur that needs immediate attention. Naturally, there is strong disagreement about whether keeping reserve funds that total a little more than a year’s worth of revenues is the right thing to do, but the fact remains that property owners could do it if they so desired. As Thompson pointed out Saturday, p...» Click here for the full story.
Case of motion sickness
Posted On: 1/28/16
Although the matter was discussed Thursday and whatever resolution might have resulted occurred after this publication went to press, the philosophy behind the proposal to form a committee to study the Ocean Pines Association’s management situation by itself deserves some discussion. The short question, obviously, is why the OPA Board of Directors needs a committee to do what it is capable of doing itself? As it is, governments, including homeowners associations, occasionally create committees or employ independent consulting firms to produce studies to justify politically what they want to do anyway. We’re not saying that what this approach is about, nor are we saying that the work of all such groups is pointless — the OPA Budget Committee, for instance, performs a valuable service – but there are situations when the purpose of an ad hoc entity is to seek answers to questions that members of a governing body don’t to explore publicly. In this particul...» Click here for the full story.
Ask your own questions
Posted On: 1/21/16
Even though writing about budgets is part of reporting, there’s no way to present a story with sufficient detail to give the public anything more than a general idea of how a proposed financial package is going to work. Or not work, as the case may be. Even on the local level — never mind the monsters state governments create or the labyrinthine federal budgets that routinely thwart even the purest of scholars (presidential candidates have no chance at all) — a substantial spending-and-revenue plan involves more entries than can be explored and explained in the amount of time and space allotted. The problem is not so much the numbers themselves, but understanding why they are what they are. Even the people who produce or adjust these numbers don’t have all the answers, as their entries are often variations of figures established by their predecessors. This is why, as the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors and its budget committee work on the community...» Click here for the full story.