By Greg Ellison
(Nov. 25, 2021) In addition to reviewing return rates for a property owners’ survey, the Ocean Pines Strategic Planning Committee examined financial trends for the past five years during its meeting last Thursday.
Committee Co-Chair Bernie McGorry said the deadline to submit responses for the owners’ survey was last Monday.
“The board approved the communication plan for the survey on Sept. 15,” he said.
Since launching the survey on Sept. 23, the committee received 1,784 replies, with full-time residents outpacing part-timers by 1,092 to 692.
“It gave a chance for every homeowner to see it,” he said.
McGorry said both full and part-time owners eclipsed the goal of 500 from each camp.
Publicity efforts were key to soliciting a decent response rate from part-time residents, McGorry said.
“It was on the front of the quarterly newsletter,” he said.
The total number of survey responses slightly topped the 1,773 received during the last survey in 2018.
“People are receptive to doing it online,” he said.
Barring a few complaints, with several residents needing help to complete the online survey, the overall level of participation was encouraging, McGorry said.
“It was simple and we had great response,” he said.
McGorry also reviewed financial summaries of association profit margins over the last five years.
“Prior to 2018, basically, Ocean Pines was losing money,” he said.
The trend has been reversed since then, with revenues generally outpacing expenses.
“Three years in a row have been positive,” he said.
McGorry said overall amenity numbers have been positive since 2018.
“Beach Club parking and marinas have been consistent stars,” he said.
While some community members have argued amenity operations are driving up assessment fees, recent data paints a different picture.
“Many people in the community think amenities are driving our costs up,” he said.
McGorry said the total financial impact from amenities on annual assessment rates represents about $4 or 0.5 percent of costs.
“Amenities represent hardly anything,” he said. “Some people in the community feel amenities are hurting us and that’s not the case.”
In 2021, assessment allocations included 29 percent for reserve accounts, 25 percent for police/fire/ems services, with other departments accounting for the remaining 46 percent.
Committee member Jenny Cropper Rines said comparable financial details are shared during the annual homeowners’ meeting in August.
“The amenities have always been such a small part [but] people do focus on it,” she said.
Board liaison Colette Horn said golf operations have done an about face financially over the past two years.
“Historically, a lot of the negative attitudes toward the golf course had to do with the fact that people were viewing it as being heavily subsidized,” she said. “People not using it viewed it as a much larger percentage going to golf than what they thought appropriate.”
The next Strategic Planning Committee meeting is scheduled for Dec. 2 at 9 a.m.