Thompson discusses budget at town hall
OCEAN PINES – Homeowners posed questions to Ocean Pines General Manger Bob Thompson about the summertime schedule for the Yacht Club pool, the reasoning behind a proposed $43 increase in the annual assessment and the financial status of the Golf Club at a Feb. 2 town hall meeting to discuss the proposed fiscal year 2013-2014 budget.
Jack Collins commended Thompson on the comprehensive presentation of the proposed budget. But Collins added that he remained opposed to the proposed increase in the assessment. He said Ocean Pines has offered a sense of community, but homeowners who are no longer financially productive are experiencing downward pressure on their savings and investments.
Collins said he has experienced financial pressure on the federal level from increased taxes and on the state level from additional fees and taxes. “Any kind of income that moves seems to be taxable,” he said. With talk of a possible increase in the gas tax, he said, “our wealth is decreasing.”
Collins asked the Board of Directors to give serious consideration to the financial burdens that Maryland taxpayers were already shouldering. “With the fee increases, the board may be creating a mindset that Ocean Pines is unaffordable,” he said, given the cost of maintaining expected living standards. “Don’t drive us across the street,” he said to a round of applause from other attendees.
Another member told Thompson and the board members in attendance, “People are being devastated by the state of their retirement packages.” He asked rhetorically when would trusted officials from all levels of government to homeowners associations “realize that we have reached the limit.”
Thompson clarified a misconception about a portion of the fee increase – $30 of that was the final increase authorized under a five-year funding plan.
Judy Ludwig asked whether the Yacht Club pool would be available for summer use with the renovations under way. She mentioned that returning deposits that have been made for reserved events might create a financial issue. Thompson said that he wanted the pool opened but at the board’s direction he was reviewing the possible scenario of allowing the general contractor Harkins Builders complete the construction on the Yacht Club pool complex with the pool closed.
Thompson also said that he was finalizing an addendum to the pre-existing contract with Harkins to encompass the damaged portion of the pool and deck renovation. The addendum would give the company oversight authority for the work needed to repair damage inflicted on the pool and structure by Hurricane Sandy.
In response to Thompson’s report on a new policy to release the names of delinquent homeowners and begin legal actions against them, Bill Lee asked why so many homeowners were allowed to owe such high assessment totals. Thompson pointed out that more than 95 percent of Ocean Pines homeowners pay their assessments in a timely manner. But he added that hard times have created challenges that could hamper people’s ability to pay.
After hearing about the Golf Club’s financial losses, another homeowner suggested the possibility that the board consider leasing out the facility. A 30-year lease would remove the constant friction that the club’s losses were creating in the community, he said.