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OP board negotiates compensation contract

By Morgan Pilz, Staff Writer

Photo by Morgan Pilz
Ocean Pines Association Director Colette Horn reads a motion to conduct a new compensation study during the monthly board meeting, held last Saturday.

(July 11, 2019) The first phase of an evaluation of pay scales for Ocean Pines employees can begin, following the Ocean Pines Board of Directors agreement Saturday to allow interim General Manager John Viola to negotiate a contract for a compensation study.

The parameters of the contract, Director Colette Horn said, is that the cost cannot exceed $100,000 and would include an analysis of all positions and salaries, an external salary survey, benefits study, development of a compensation philosophy, and development of an implementation plan.

“In the last two budget cycles, Ocean Pines Association has made decisions affecting benefits and compensation for employees, with the promise to employees and Ocean Pines Association members that a professional compensation study would be conducted to guide present and future decisions,” Horn said.

“An RPF went out to several vendors … one bid was received,” she continued. “Other vendors either said it was too large for their capabilities, or that their current workload would not accommodate our timeline.”

The bid was reviewed by an Ocean Pines workgroup and the vendor had extensive experience doing this type of work for Eastern Shore municipalities, including Ocean City, Wilmington and Rehoboth Beach in Delaware, and several large homeowners’ associations, Horn said.

“There was unanimous agreement that the process outlined in the bids exactly what is needed in the guidance for compensation policies,” she added. “The qualifications of the principles are stellar.”

The $100,000 spending limit is well over the $25,000 budgeted for the study, Horn admitted. This being said, she suggested the board needs to review prior studies to avoid making careless mistakes.

“I think we need to reflect on what has been done in the past,” Horn said. “We’ve had two efforts on a pay study – one that was conducted by an outside entity – we had fairly low costs. We also had a salary service conducted internally. Neither of those … were implemented. And that’s a problem.”

President Doug Parks and other members said the potential budget overage gave them sticker shock, although Parks suggested several optional items in the agreement could be cut out in order to negotiate down the final price.

“Forty-seven percent of our budget comes in wages and benefits,” Director Frank Daly said. “We’re not a campground anymore … we’re essentially a city of 12,000 people. We’re [also] looking at benefits.

“We owe the membership, we owe ourselves, [and] we owe the employees that level of effort to make sure that we fine tune this thing and get it very, very efficient and effective,” he said. “I generally agree with the concept and I will vote for the motion … [with] the caveat that we’re not just signing a check here for $100,000.