Pines GM, others highlight progress during Board reports

General Manager John Viola delivers a report during an Oct. 2 regular OPA Board meeting.

The Association continues to move forward on several notable projects, including a new Golf clubhouse, renovated Police building, new financial software, and reinvigorated programs for bulkheads, dredging and drainage.  

General Manager John Viola, during the Oct. 2 regular Ocean Pines Board meeting, offered updates on more than a dozen ongoing projects.  

Viola said the Association was “on track” with the October deadline to go live with the new Northstar software, expected to help improve financial reporting and accounting services for Ocean Pines.  

Finance Director Steve Phillips said the Administration staff, as well as Recreation and Parks, Aquatics and Public Works, would go live with the new systems in October, with other departments phasing in over the next several months. Staff received extensive training on the new systems in September.  

“I just want to give accolades to the employees,” Phillips said. “Change is always difficult, but … there was focus [and an] all-around positive attitude related to the training and implementation.” 

Turning to the new Golf clubhouse, Viola said concrete work would start soon, with a May 1 goal to open the building. He added a prefabricated Golf cart barn should be set by November, and renovations for the Police headquarters should start later this month.  

“We’re working with the golf pro to make sure that minimum disruption happens during the busy time at the Golf course,” he said, adding financials at the course are “basically on track with the budget,” despite all the construction activity.  

The new craft building is “coming along nicely,” Viola said, and construction there should wrap up by December. The structure is viewable near the Farmer’s Market grounds at White Horse Park. 

Also on the management side, Viola is conducting performance reviews of each department head, and said cross-training and promoting “bench strength,” or the ability to specialize across multiple departments, is a priority. 

“We definitely will have savings there, [so] it’s worth the investment that we’re doing right now,” he said. 

Executive Secretary Michelle Bennett is working with Sibson Consulting on an employee compensation study, which Sibson will deliver by the first week of November, Viola said.  

Viola credited Operations Director Colby Phillips, Public Works Director Eddie Wells and Public Works Operations Manager Nobie Violante with restarting programs for bulkheads, drainage and dredging, adding a multiyear plan was in place for each.  

Viola sent the Board a contract for a new bulkhead staging ground, which he said would help save the Association money. The directors unanimously approved the contract during a closed session later that night. 

On the financial side, Viola said the August numbers showed revenues over budget more than $105,000 and expenses under budget more than $45,000, for a total favorable net operating balance of $151,301. 

Over the first four months of the current fiscal year, the Association posted a total net operating balance of about $460,000 ahead of budget. By comparison, the Association was favorable $69,000 at the same point last year.  

Viola said it was notable that revenues were over budget, but expenses were under budget.  

“Normally, in the past, when we’ve had revenues over budget our expenses have increased to support those revenues,” he said. “This time, both are favorable.” 

Work on the fiscal 2020/2021 budget is underway. Steve Phillips said the Budget and Finance Committee supplied budget guidance to the Board in September, and an internal “bottoms-up” process has already started.  

Department heads are due to present first drafts of budget requests by the end of October, with revisions occurring through December. Public budget meetings with the Budget and Finance Committee are scheduled Jan. 6-8, followed by a Board review.  

“Major work has already taken place in finance, including significant interaction with the department heads, as well as the GM, all being actively engaged in the process already,” Phillips said. He added the finance department considers each budget request and adjusts for depreciation, interest, utilities, reserve balances, benefit costs, and inflation costs or savings.  

Treasurer Larry Perrone delivered a financial oversight presentation during the meeting, most important of which, he said, was the reserve forecast for the end of the year.  

Reserves as of Aug. 31 totaled $10.3 million, including $6.3 million in replacement reserves, $2.7 million in bulkheads and $1.3 million in roads.  

With several million dollars earmarked toward major projects this fiscal year, the projected reserve balance by April 30, 2020 is $4.8 million, including just over $2.95 million in replacement reserves, $1.24 million in bulkheads and $615,000 in roads, according to Perrone.   

He said replacement projects this fiscal year carry a projected total of $4.286 million. Those include Northstar, the Golf clubhouse, cart bar, and Police renovation. 

Perrone added there are $2 million in bulkhead and waterways projects and $836,000 in road renovations scheduled this year. 

The replacement reserve total, by April 30, 2020, projects at about $2.9 million and total reserves project to be just over $4.8 million.  

“With the money that we’re spending this year … we wanted to make sure that we had the liquidity to cover the expenses, and secondly that we didn’t drain our replacement reserves to a point where, if something unforeseen happened, we didn’t have money to cover it,” Perrone said. “If the plans go accordingly, and we don’t have any reason to expect they won’t, we should still be in good shape at the end of this fiscal year.” 

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