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OP Budget Committee to target oversight

OCEAN PINES—The message conveyed
by Ocean Pines Budget and Finance Committee Chair Dennis Hudson to the Board of
Directors, during their Oct. 2 meeting, was that during fiscal year 2014-1215
the committee wants to offer its budget development assistance in a more
proactive and targeted manner.

Hudson pointed out that the
committee is required by the OPA by-laws and resolutions to provide guidance to
the board prior to the budget preparation process.

“In the past we have gone through
every department, good, bad or otherwise. We’ve decided that the major thing
that we should be concerned about this year in the budget process is
revenue—the generation and calculation of revenue,” Hudson told the board. Citing
the committee’s oversight authority as proscribed under Resolution F-02 section
2, he said, the committee would concentrate heavily on the details of business
plans supporting revenue calculation for the major fee-based revenue-generating
departments.

“We’re not going to spend a great
deal of time on other items,” Hudson said. “We will de-emphasize those
departments who have in our review, processes that seem to have supporting
documentation to support revenue forecasts.”

OPA President Tom Terry called
the committee’s plans to focus on targeted revenue projections a “very good
idea.” He added that some of the information compiled by the committee would be
part of what the board would use when it provides guidance for General Manager
Bob Thompson’s budget.

This is Hudson’s second budget
cycle as Budget and Finance Committee Chairman. He said in an Oct. 8 interview
that committee members felt that in past years the relationship between the
committee and management had been adversarial. Last year the parties had worked
to build more cordial relations, he said. The committee now wants to expand on
that improved relationship by offering more assistance to management, he said.

Last year, the committee spent a
week meeting with department managers to determine their responsibilities. The
committee also conducted a line-by-line examination of department budgets,
according to Director Bill Cordwell, who was previously a member of the
committee and now serves as the board’s liaison to the committee. He said the
information gleaned from the meetings and examinations proved to be “very
enlightening” and was the basis from which the committee developed the guidance
report provided to the board. He also noted the review showed department spending
had been “lean.”

The board is now in the process
of examining the committee’s review and analysis to determine which items to
adopt for inclusion in its guidance to Thompson. The first of those meetings
began Oct. 7, according to Cordwell.

He said he had a lot of respect
for everybody who served on any of the OPA’s committees, because of the amount
of time and effort he knew that service required.

Hudson said committee members did
not want to review department budgets after they had already been completed.
Rather, they wanted to participate in the budget development process, which he
said would require cooperation and an open dialogue with both the board and
management. But he told the board, “If you need us, we’re there. We want to see
how the revenue process is constructed. When it comes time to approving the
budget I think we can add a great deal to that by commenting on the accuracy of
that process.” 

The
committee report requested explanations for the current year capital/reserve
variances, along with the action plans to correct and reduce the errors. Hudson
requested that Controller Art Carmine put explanations of variances of 5
percent or more in writing, including capital reserves variances.

Hudson said the committee wanted
to delve into the causes for the variances, but acknowledged the need for a balance
between requesting information needed for a effective evaluation and avoiding
overwhelming staff with too many information requests.

The committee also requested
information on the current process for making performance measurements. Hudson
said the committee found two or three studies in the archives on how to measure
performance, but it did not appear they had been fully implemented. Questions
from the committee, he said, would include: what was the current performance
measure criterion? How was it developed, and what new or
additional processes needed to be implemented in the process?

The public presentation and final
approval of the 2013-2014 budget were conducted in February this year.