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Viola repeats: things still look good

Budget-beating numbers posted for November, but winter will bring decline

(Jan. 9, 2020) With financials complete for more than half of the current fiscal year, Ocean Pines Association balance ledgers remain favorable to budget by roughly $587,000, General Manager John Viola reported Saturday.

In addition to giving highlights from fiscal 2019/2020, Viola also recapped ongoing capital projects, and previewed fiscal 2020/2021 budget preparations during the OPA Board of Directors meeting on Jan. 4.

Viola said the November 2019 financials improve upon reasonably strong figures from the year before.

“Last year for the month of November, we had a $21,000 [favorable] budget variance,” he said. “This year we almost hit $36,000 for a favorability of $14,000 over last year.”

Tracking year-to-date totals seven months into the fiscal year also shows strong performance totals.

“We are favorable to budget this year approximately $587,000,” he said.

This figure is comprised of revenues, which were budgeted at $11.5 million, tracking $449,000 ahead of estimates.

Simultaneously, operating expenses also have been curtailed, with budgeted costs of $7.9 million tracking $138,000 under the mark.

“On the expense side overall, we are favorable, and that’s across the board,” he said.

Viola also noted, however, that the remaining months in the current fiscal year are traditionally a period of higher cash use and lower revenues.

“We expect the $587,000 to be down and we have a forecast for that,” he said.

Viola also recapped the status of several construction projects and other capital expenditures.

Starting with the Ocean Pines Golf Course, Viola said the new clubhouse construction and cart barn replacement are tracking on budget.

The expanded golf clubhouse facility remains on pace to open this May, with about $266,000 spent to this point for the project estimated to run $1.6 million in total.

Viola said the spending figures remain under close scrutiny by association leadership and board members.

“At any given time, at any hour of the day, I can tell you basically where we’re at on it,” he said. “Right now, I’m very happy to say we’re under budget.”

Viola said the golf cart barn building, which is slated for completion this month, should be completed at or under budget.

The new craft building in White Horse Park is on track for completion this month within budget constraints.

Still in the starting gates is the police building expansion project, which is budgeted at $1.3 million with about $90,000 spent to this point.

“They’re starting to put the foundation in,” he said.

Although just getting underway, based on prior experiences with Delaware contractor Whayland, the work should move along quickly, Viola said.

“From our experience with Whayland the last couple of months, once they get in there they move,” he said.

Work to implement Northstar financial software across association departments is on schedule by May 2020, with about $306,000 spent thus far for the project estimated to cost $400,000.

“The financials came out generated by the Northstar system last month, so we’re basically on track,” he said. “We do have several more months to go.”

Also at the finish line is a compensation study by consultants the Sibson Group undertaken to assure association employees’ pay is in line with comparable operations in the region.

“That’s basically completed, and, hopefully, we’ll have sign-off on it next week as we go through budget review,” he said.

Viola said the cost of the study, which was initially estimated at $100,000, was negotiated to half the number by using in-house resources for certain tasks, with related spending to this point about $39,000.

Switching to pending budget work, Viola previewed the multi-day budget meetings with the OPA Budget and Finance Committee starting on Jan. 6.

Viola said the meetings would include budget requests from the individual departments.

The process continues with board budget work sessions slated for Jan. 15-17, with Viola set to publish the recommended budget on Jan. 24.

After this, the board will hold a hearing on the proposed budget on Feb. 5, with final comments and a vote for adoption on Feb. 18.

OPA President

Ocean Pines Association General Manager John Viola presented strong closing financial numbers for this November during the board meeting on Saturday.

said while the budget and finance committee review meetings are open to members, videos would also be posted online afterwards for those unable to attend.