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GM report highlights positive progress

By Greg Ellison

Staff Writer

(Nov. 7, 2019) With progress being made on a multitude of capital projects and year-to-date budget numbers remaining positive, General Manager John Viola told the board of directors Saturday that the end of the year looked solid.

As for construction projects, Viola said new clubhouse at the golf course would have foundation work underway over the next few days.

“During the course of November, you’ll see the framing,” he said. “It should be enclosed … by the first of the year.”

Viola said the project could wrap up ahead of schedule, weather permitting, and in time for links activities to blossom in May. He also said the cost of the job would come in within the $1.6 million estimate.

“That’s the number you’ve all heard from the beginning from this board,” he said. “We are on track for that number.”

Building the golf course replacement cart barn should be completed by January at the latest, Viola said.

“The material is there,” he said. “If you’re down there, you’ll see that they are, as we speak, taking down the old cart barn.”

To this point, the cart barn project, which was budgeted at $400,000, appears to be coming in under estimates, Viola said.

The new craft building, budgeted at $85,000, also looks to be completed within cost and likely during January.

“Today, they’re working on the roof,” he said.

Work is getting underway for the expansion of the police and administration building, at an estimated cost of $1.3 million, Viola said.

“The trailer is on site and we’ll start to see some work on that,” he said.

Turning to internal initiatives, Viola noted the transition to NorthStar accounting software is nearly completed.

“November is the first time we will go live with the financials,” he said. “So far, I’m being told everything is looking ok.”

Work is also winding down on a wage and benefit compensation study for OPA staff being completed by consultants with the Sibson Group.

Viola said a report would be presented to the Ocean Pines Budget and Finance Committee in early November.

“I met with them the other morning and will review information this weekend,” he said.

To this point, feedback from the consultants is in line with related discussions over the past few months, Viola said.

“It will be totally transparent,” he said.

While not intended to limit residents’ remote access to board meetings, Viola said recent technical problems that have affected live streaming the sessions, which costs roughly $17,000 annually, have led to the abandonment of the practice in favor of posting videos within 24 hours.

“This decision should both save money and improve the audio and video quality,” he said.

The broadcasts on Channel 78 will occur each Monday, Wednesday and Friday following meetings at noon and 7 p.m.

Switching to fiscal 2020/2021 budget preparations, Viola said initial numbers should be completed by late December and that the process has been eased because of increased profitability.

“As it stands right now, compared to prior years, I have a budget,” he said. “We’re ahead of last year by two months.”

Turning to year-to-date and September 2019 financials, Viola had more good news.

“Revenue is favorable this year, but expenses are also favorable to budget [and] that’s the big one to me,” he said. “Compared to the prior year, an increase of $422,000, that’s a big number.”

September numbers were also markedly improved over the prior year, Viola said.

“We were favorable $26,000 last year for the month [of September],” he said.

Despite the strong trend during September 2018, Viola said this year the end-of-month numbers beat the budget by $57,000.
“We were over $31,000 from a good month last year,” he said.

Viola said he and Director of Finance

Ocean Pines General manager John Viola presented a bright financial outlook for the second half of the current fiscal year during the board of directors meeting on Saturday.

are in the midst of completing the budget forecasts, which could provide a healthy sum to address previous shortfalls.

“We will make a recommendation that surplus — hopefully we still have it —go against the deficit and help with the assessment presented,” he said.