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OPA Board gives OK to FY 2014-2015 budget

OCEAN PINES—During a Feb. 21 meeting, the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors approved the proposed budget for fiscal year 2014-2015, which begins May 1.
According to a statement released by the OPA, “The FY 2015 Budget reflects Total Revenues of $10,229,558 and Operating Expenses and Transfers of the same amount, a Basic Annual Assessment of $909, and Capital Expenditures of $3,190,348.”
Other business discussed during the meeting included General Manager Bob Thompson’s monthly report, a continuation of the ongoing evaluation of possible remedies for the overpopulation non-migratory resident geese in the community, and an announcement that the first meetings of a stormwater drainage taskforce were scheduled for Thursday, March 6 and Wednesday, March 12, at 10 a.m. respectively.
According to Thompson, the unaudited financial forecast as the current fiscal year comes to a close at the end of April is projected to show a net gain of $152,978. He also noted that golf bookings were up for both March and April. The actual year-to-date variance through the end of January was $130,273, he said. “So far our performance is doing extremely well,” he said.
During the meeting, Director Marty Clarke inquired about the Country Club’s closure in February, after the board voted in September to keep it open. Thompson explained that several factors had prompted the closure, which was done after Super Bowl weekend.
In part, the building’s closure was due to utility expenses that were outpacing revenue and a drop in residents’ usage of the facility the number of members had dwindled to minimal levels, due in part to severe weather. Weighed against the fact that traditionally in January and February many residents were out of the area, Thompson said it made more financial sense to close the facility. He added that while the board had elected to allow the club to stay open, “the benefit just wasn’t there.”
Moreover, Director Jeff Knepper, who was not a member of the board at the time, said that he recalled the vote in September had “authorized” Thompson to keep the club open, which Knepper noted provided the general manager more flexibility to use his judgment to respond to changing conditions than directing him to do so.
Thompson outlined several projects that were either planned or in progress. Some of the projects could overlap during the transition between FY 2013-2014 and FY 2014-2015, he explained.
Still another project fell under the category of regular operational maintenance and would be addressed during 2013-2014, according to Thompson. It was the annual reconditioning of the Har Tru tennis courts in the Manklin Meadows recreation park, he said.
Also for the remaining 2013-2014 budget year, Thompson outlined projects that would include, repairing a floor crack in the adult pool and replacing the surrounding fence at Mumford’s Landing,
Of the capital projects that were scheduled to begin in FY 2014-2015, one will cost significantly less than what was budgeted. A project to replace the current baby pool at the Swim and Racquet Club with a splash pad designed to meet zero entry access requirements under the American with Disabilities Act. The planned expense for the project was $175,000 and the highest bid was comparable to the amount because it included a proposal to also replace the pump system, Thompson said. But the two lower bidders had determined that the project could be accomplished with the existing pump system intact, he said.
Thompson proposed accepting one of the two lower bids and the board voted to approve a bid to complete the work for $38,800, thus creating a savings of $136,200. In addition, OPA Public Works Department personnel could construct a handicap ramp, which was also needed to meet ADA compliance standards, at a cost of $4,700, he added. The board opted to allow the differential to remain in place for contingencies, but Director Bill Cordwell pointed out after the meeting the board had the ability to review and possibly adjust that allocation in June after the start of the new fiscal year.
In terms of long-range planning, Thompson briefed the board on a project to repair bridges on Ocean Parkway and Clubhouse Drive, a project to update the OPA’s computer system and a project to renovate, replace or relocate the Ocean Pines Police Station.
During one portion of Thompson’s presentation, the topic of
OPA President Tom Terry seemed anxious to make it clear the board had no immediate plans to act on any of the ideas under review for dealing with a proliferation of non-migratory resident geese in the community until after the wild transient Canadian geese in the area have moved on for the spring and summer. The OPA is in the process of trying to resolve concerns about the waste droppings the birds are leaving in the areas near the North and South Gate pond, the traffic problems they sometimes create along Rt. 589 and the deformities they are experiencing from dietary deficiencies caused when well-meaning individuals feed them non-nutritious bread, Terry and Thompson emphasized.
Several residents were in attendance in support of not euthanizing the geese. Edna Martin proposed that the OPA purchase equipment that could attach to a tractor and scrape the ground to scoop up the droppings, and using methods to control the geese from reproducing.
Thompson said later he personally loved having the geese in the community and found the dilemma of having to deal with them to be a “tough situation” and one that had the potential to be a “mixed bag” no matter what was decided.
He confirmed the scooper equipment was one of several solutions that are currently under consideration, along with dogs trained to chase the geese away, but not harm them; barrier wires to discourage the geese from certain areas; and a sonic sound system to repel the birds. But he said fecal matter from the birds on the ground cover around the ponds was only one component of the overall problem.
There was also the problem of the bird’s fecal matter negatively affecting the water quality of the ponds and the traffic problems to contend with, Thompson noted. Handouts were provided with a multi-page list of possible solutions recommended by experts, including the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and a flyer that was part of a public education campaign aimed at discouraging the public from adding to the problem by feeding the wild birds.