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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Creating budgets now requires extra caution

Budgeting is nothing like it used to be for business or government, both of which these days have little choice but to proceed prudently while fervently hoping the year ahead doesn’t go sideways.

The last two years certainly did, rendering useless many of the logical conclusions on which budgets are based. Time was, budget masters could produce a reasonably solid fiscal package by building on figures from the year before.

After 2020 and 2021, however, anyone who plugs numbers into a spreadsheet has to be a little nervous about how much flexibility to build into a budget so it can absorb another bad bout of the unexpected.

No one drafting a plan at the end of 2019 could have anticipated that the beginning of a two-year pandemic was just three months away, nor could they have prepared for its nearly overwhelming financial and social fallout.

Budgets, being the products of math, logic and recent history, don’t include a worst-case scenario entry that says, “use your imagination.”

That said, the financial planning taking place now in Berlin and Ocean Pines might be involve an extra degree or two of caution. In Berlin, for instance, town officials recognize that the smart move is to get out from under the debt service on its Heron Park purchase. In Ocean Pines, officials are playing it safe in the early rounds, as expenses appear to be stable enough to accommodate an expected drop in revenue.

This is as it should be, while everyone waits to see what this year will bring.

Ralph DeAngelus, CEO of Matt Ortt Companies, which handles food service for Ocean Pines, demonstrated his acceptance of this new normal when he presented his financial outlook to the budget committee late last month.

In explaining his conservative forecasts for the year, DeAngelus told committee, “I’d rather under-promise and over-deliver.”

That’s what everyone hopes to do in 2022.