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Gazette Editorial: Not quite yet time for pitchforks and torches

As Ocean Pines property owners prepare for Saturday’s budget session, they might temper their outrage at the proposed $127 increase in assessments by accepting that this financial package is still in the preliminary stages.

Considering the observations offered this week by Association President Doug Parks, it’s apparent that this level of increase will not stand and will be scaled back considerably, as the directors separate its proposed expenditures into three categories — what must be done, what could be done and what isn’t necessary in the coming budget year.

This document, apparently, is all-inclusive, as it touches on every possible project and expense the Ocean Pines Association might encounter, consider or pursue in the next year.

Some of the budget entries obviously involve policy decisions, rather than management recommendations, and those will be made by the board after the public makes its opinion known.

Also to be considered, however, is that no matter what the budget’s final numbers turn out to be, the financial sins of budgets past will have a major impact.

It’s tough to retreat from previously established payroll, benefits and hiring policies, just as it is impossible to turn back the clock and undo money-draining pursuits that might have been done better or not at all.

There’s no such thing as a clean budget that starts from zero, and this one attempts to take the past and future into account all at once. But it’s an ala carte monetary menu, that will allow the board and association members to pick and choose between what they’re prepared to pay for and what they have to do, like it or not.