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Thompson discusses budget at town hall

OCEAN PINES – Homeowners posed questions to Ocean Pines General
Manger Bob Thompson about the summertime schedule for the Yacht Club
pool, the reasoning behind a proposed $43 increase in the annual
assessment and the financial status of the Golf Club at a Feb. 2 town
hall meeting to discuss the proposed fiscal year 2013-2014 budget.
Jack
Collins commended Thompson on the comprehensive presentation of the
proposed budget. But Collins added that he remained opposed to the
proposed increase in the assessment. He said Ocean Pines has offered a
sense of community, but homeowners who are no longer financially
productive are experiencing downward pressure on their savings and
investments.
Collins said he has experienced financial pressure on
the federal level from increased taxes and on the state level from
additional fees and taxes. “Any kind of income that moves seems to be
taxable,” he said. With talk of a possible increase in the gas tax, he
said, “our wealth is decreasing.”
Collins asked the Board of
Directors to give serious consideration to the financial burdens that
Maryland taxpayers were already shouldering. “With the fee increases,
the board may be creating a mindset that Ocean Pines is unaffordable,”
he said, given the cost of maintaining expected living standards. “Don’t
drive us across the street,” he said to a round of applause from other
attendees.
Another member told Thompson and the board members in
attendance, “People are being devastated by the state of their
retirement packages.” He asked rhetorically when would trusted officials
from all levels of government to homeowners associations “realize that
we have reached the limit.”
Thompson clarified a misconception about a
portion of the fee increase – $30 of that was the final increase
authorized under a five-year funding plan.
Judy Ludwig asked whether
the Yacht Club pool would be available for summer use with the
renovations under way. She mentioned that returning deposits that have
been made for reserved events might create a financial issue. Thompson
said that he wanted the pool opened but at the board’s direction he was
reviewing the possible scenario of allowing the general contractor
Harkins Builders complete the construction on the Yacht Club pool
complex with the pool closed.
Thompson also said that he was
finalizing an addendum to the pre-existing contract with Harkins to
encompass the damaged portion of the pool and deck renovation. The
addendum would give the company oversight authority for the work needed
to repair damage inflicted on the pool and structure by Hurricane Sandy.
In
response to Thompson’s report on a new policy to release the names of
delinquent homeowners and begin legal actions against them, Bill Lee
asked why so many homeowners were allowed to owe such high assessment
totals. Thompson pointed out that more than 95 percent of Ocean Pines
homeowners pay their assessments in a timely manner. But he added that
hard times have created challenges that could hamper people’s ability to
pay.
After hearing about the Golf Club’s financial losses, another
homeowner suggested the possibility that the board consider leasing out
the facility. A 30-year lease would remove the constant friction that
the club’s losses were creating in the community, he said.