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


Gazette Editorial: Deficit, audit unrelated

If there’s one thing people know how to do, it’s to hypothesize by drawing on an assumption born of speculation.

In other words, people often arrive at the conclusion first and work backwards to build an argument to support whatever they believe to be true.

That’s what is happening with the discussion of the $1.9 million Ocean Pines budget deficit and forensic audit, as some community members have erroneously concluded that the money is gone because someone stole it.

That, General Manager John Bailey emphatically and repeatedly declared in an interview this week, is not what happened, adding that thefts, reported or suspected, aren’t related to the financial hole the Ocean Pines Association dug for itself over the past two years.

What happened is that the association over-estimated its potential income — by a great amount — spent money it didn’t budget for personnel expense and improvements, and dealt with some unanticipated problems.

The yacht club and beach club themselves accounted for nearly a million dollars of the deficit via unrealistic revenue projections and subsequent discounts offered to push sales in a positive direction.

Money missing because of theft, one of which has been proven and the possibility of another under investigation, doesn’t amount to more than $36,000 or so, according to Bailey.

That’s just a little more than 2 percent of last year’s losses, which is why he will tell anyone who will listen that the real purpose of the forensic audit is not to uncover vast thievery, but is to give residents a clean and verified set of books in which they can have confidence.