forum home > articles home

Presentation by Norm Zatz to OPA Board January 19, 2011
Subject: Contract with Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Department

In November there were reports in local newspapers that our Management was negotiating a new contract with OPVFD. That prompted me to write a letter to our Board of Directors.

The Fire Department Negotiations Update on today’s agenda leads me to refer to that letter, which also was sent to a prior Board as well.

The agenda description, “Fire Department Negotiations Update” goes to the heart of my concerns. If the agenda said “EMS Negotiations” I would not be as concerned.

We have a contract with the OPVFD that goes back to 1973, that was also reaffirmed with some amendments in 1977. That contract has been in place for decades. It is not broken. It does not need to be fixed.

The heart of the contract pertains to the funding of the OPVFD. In essence the contract states that the OPVFD formulates it’s budget, calculating all of it’s needs, which are not limited to payroll, maintenance, equipment, apparatus, reserves, etc. and all of their income, which is not limited to grants, endowments, fund raising and investments. If there is a demonstrated shortfall in funding the OPA is contractually, as well a morally, obligated to make up that shortfall. It’s pretty simple and equitable to both parties and it has served us well for 37 years.

The contract does not include the EMS which did not exist in 1973. However, the EMS is an offshoot of the OPVFD. I suggest the contract be amended to include the EMS, so the funding of the EMS utilizes the same equitable criteria.

If for some reason that is not practical, then we should have a separate contract with the EMS. Under no circumstances what-so-ever should we do away with the current OPVFD contract.

The current contract contains very favorable safeguards for the Ocean Pines property owners. The language is precise and explicit and it prescribes, that in the unlikely event the OPVFD is dissolved or the contract is cancelled by either party, all facilities and all equipment of OPVFD will revert to the Ocean Pines Association. In that unlikely event we could still maintain fire protection in the community.

That contract clause in itself dictates we retain our current contract.

If EMS is included in the current OPVFD contract by amendment, the same favorable safeguards for the Ocean Pines property owners would apply to the EMS as well.

I don’t want to put words in their mouths, but unless I misunderstood my discussions with Tom Terry and Bob Thompson they essentially agree with me that we should retain the current contract. However, I don’t know how of the rest of you feel. Nor do I know what will be presented today.

But I do know that a new OPVFD contract can jeopardize the safety of the Ocean Pines property owners. I urge the Board to keep that in mind and equitably fund our EMS while continuing to ensure our future protection.

Uploaded: 1/26/2011