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OPA Board Rejects Budget

Commentary by Joe Reynolds

However one views the proposed OPA budget, the Board of Directors meeting on the evening of February 16, 2011 at the Ocean Pines Country Club was not exactly a “Profiles in Courage” night for the board as an entity.

A week ago the board provided its final directions to the General Manager at the conclusion of their very long budget review. At the meeting last night the board rejected the very instructions it gave to the General Manager.

In the interim the only thing that happened was Marty Clarke’s commentary published in local papers and here on Yet again, an OPA Board of Directors failed to think Marty was a credible adversary. On the other hand, Marty's roar-of-the-crowd approach is the same approach used by supporters of the covered pool, and as I recall, Marty did not think much of said approach at that time.

I offer no judgment regarding Marty’s concerns about the budget. Every association member should be so involved.

However, let's examine what really happened here. What really happened is one to four board members caved to the roar of the crowd. The budget process has been out in the open for more than a month. Four or five public meetings of the B&F Committee, followed by about four board budget reviews open the public, followed by a public hearing at the Community Hall, followed by another public board meeting or two. All of these budget proceedings, including the amount of the proposed assessment increase, were covered in local papers and here on the forum.

During the entire, lengthy public process hardly any association member made a peep about the budget or the assessment. At the board meeting prior to last night's, the board, as a practical matter, told the GM to make a few changes and was ready to vote to approve the budget last night based on those desired changes.

Then Marty Clarke wrote his commentary and distributed it to local papers and the forum. Suddenly, a number of folks who had paid no attention to the public budget process were upset. They called and emailed the board and perhaps 75-100 showed up at the meeting last night.

What would have otherwise been a rather perfunctory approval of one of the most reviewed budgets in my memory, ended up with a rejected budget on a 4-3 vote. Certainly the board had every right to do what it did. However, the vote speaks volumes about how the board is subject to extreme influence by a vocal show of force by association members..... even if that show of force represents less than 1% of all association members.

This is the scary thing about the entire episode last night. It demonstrates quite clearly how this board is no different than the board that approved the covered pool, or the board that used questionable means to try and push through a second referendum on a Community Center at the Sports Core.

It also quite clearly demonstrates how any board may do anything at any given time to satisfy any relatively large gathering of association members intent on influencing a board decision.

Marty's success at thwarting the budget approval, without any consideration on my part as to whether it was the right thing to do or not, also confirms the fears of many about not allowing any board to have a large reserve fund at its disposal to use as it sees fit any time the roar of the crowd demands it. In other words, Marty used a tactic very similar to what he decried the covered pool supporters for using.

Those four board members who voted against the budget last night did nothing to improve the stature of the OPA Board of Directors. They should have expressed their intent to not vote for the budget long before last night. They did not. At the very least they should have been prepared to offer an alternative. They did not.

Uploaded: 2/18/2011