Rare would be the business that could say its operations suffered a million-dollar loss against budget the year before, but would reduce that by half in the current year and post a profit in the next.
Rarer still would be the organization that foundered in a $1.3 million sea of red ink and 12 months later sailed unscathed into profitability. That, however, is precisely what the Ocean Pines Association is about to do, according to the latest financial update from interim General Manager and Treasurer John Viola.
It just could be, Viola told the association board of directors Saturday, the association would end its fiscal year this month $60,000 to the good.
That’s a remarkable achievement and the board, staff and committee members who advise the association leadership on budget and finance matters should be congratulated.
Just as amazing, however, is how the association found itself in that mess and how an easy decision — in retrospect, at least — eliminated most of the problem.
Of that $1.3 million deficit, a million of it resulted from some farfetched yacht and beach club revenue budgeting and an equally unrealistic operational plan to deliver it.
All that, along with several unbudgeted expenses of more than $100,000 here and there, combined to create a budget disaster that would have gotten the association into seriously deep trouble had it been allowed to continue.
Some credit for the turnaround must be given to former General Manager John Bailey, who insisted at the outset that the budget needed to be leaner and adhered to by all departments.
Having the greatest effect, as is now obvious to association members and their guests, was the board of directors’ decision to get out of the restaurant business by turning the yacht and beach clubs over to professional operators.
Whatever the Matt Ortt Companies get out of their contractual arrangement with the association to run these clubs, they earned it, just as the board deserves credit for accepting the association’s limitations with regard to the food service business.
The budget process is never going to be without controversy, as property owners will always question how their money is being spent. At least now they’ll be debating real numbers produced by a much more stable operation.