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Gazette Editorial: Pines budget process confusing and messy

The Ocean Pines budget process makes a traffic jam look coordinated and its blare of honking horns sound symphonic. The good intentions of everyone notwithstanding, this overly complicated procedure makes it difficult to understand who is accountable to whom.

After the financial mess of a couple of years ago, along with the continuing desire to keep assessments in check, the increased scrutiny of budget development is understandable.

Yet, the number of budgetary watchdogs to whom the administration apparently has to answer leaves unclear how this vital business is supposed to proceed and who, exactly, is responsible for establishing the budget’s goals and objectives that the administration is supposed to pursue.

The meeting between General Manager John Bailey and the Budget and Finance Committee this week was not so much a review of the budget’s first draft as it was a confrontation.

The hostility toward the administration’s first effort was evident, and the tone of the session suggested that he revise his numbers, or else. Additionally, demands for information about and criticism of matters already settled — the bonus plan for the Ortt Company’s food and beverage operations, in particular — seemed more like an ammunition-gathering exercise for some future disagreement than it did the review-and-recommend approach assigned to the committee in the bylaws and resolutions.

Accordingly, if the committee doesn’t like the draft Bailey presented, and apparently it didn’t, it’s job it to recommend to the board that changes be made rather than tell Bailey what he needs to do.

As it is, the administration is being called upon to serve two masters, which makes setting the budget an unnecessarily grueling business. If Bailey and his finance department fail to produce the kind of budget the directors want, that’s between him and the people who hired him.

Similarly, if the committee doesn’t like what it sees, that’s between its members and the board.