By Greg Ellison
(Feb. 13, 2020) Ensuring that money allocated in the new capital reserve fund for projects or purchases is not used for other purposes was discussed by the Ocean Pines Board of Directors last Wednesday.
Established in November, the New Capital Reserve Fund caused some concern during the budget hearings for next year.
Board member Charlotte Horn said she feared some future board could change a project’s allocation.
“We want to make sure a project that’s approved doesn’t get lost or … reversed by a future board,” she said.
While in favor of creating the fund, OPA President Doug Parks also called for controls to curtail changes in how the fund’s set-asides are employed.
“Any four directors can decide they want to build a bowling alley and that’s not the intent,” he said.
Parks said a clearly defined policy must be established to ensure that funds are spent according to the original intent behind the allocation.
“Until that happens, I’m very uncomfortable,” he said.
Parks also said spending initiatives should be tied to a strategic plan.
“What mechanism do we use to make sure that we are addressing the proper authority to select a project, transfer monies into the capital reserve fund and how to approve expenditures,?” he asked.
Board member Larry Perrone, who headed the effort to create the new capital reserve fund, said a maximum balance of $1 million and a $500,000 annual spending limit were included to restrain slush fund-like abuses.
“We’re not anticipating using it for another large building,” he said.
Perrone said the intent is to establish an additional reserve fund for smaller scale projects or new equipment purchases without affecting annual assessment rates.
“Part of the plan is having the Strategic Planning Commission be actively involved in that process,” he said.
During public comments, Bernie McGorry asked how the recommended fiscal budget incorporated long-term strategic planning.
Parks said the OPA Strategic Planning Committee has been dormant and needs to be revived.
McGorry admitted being perplexed after he volunteered for the committee, which is listed online, only to discover that the group had not been meeting.
“We are looking to jump start it and there’s a ground swell of desire here to get that thing up and running,” Parks said.
With research needed to determine how the fund will be financed, OPA Vice President
suggested that Perrone form a work group to consider the options and return to the board with recommendations.