CA by Numbers ( Part I) (The Villager 2015-8)

CA by the Numbers (Part I)

By Chao Wu

The village and CA are quiet and people are on vacation. After I came back from my vacation in late July, I found that the uneven sidewalks in front of my house were fixed. That is really nice. And I received a large handbook and a bill from the Columbia Association (CA), as many of our residents did. Yes, CA is collecting money from us in the name of “Annual Charge”. In this issue, I would like to share some general information with you.

Columbia Association’s Board of Directors (CABOD) will hold a pre-budget public input forum on Thursday, Sept. 3, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at Slayton House, 10400 Cross Fox Lane in the Wilde Lake Village Center. The forum will be hosted by the Board’s Planning and Strategy Committee and is open to the public.

Representatives of CA’s BOD will join our River Hill Board of Director’s meeting on Oct. 5 in order to reach out to our residents. Please come and share your thoughts.

1.     CA Responsibility

Some people in our neighborhood are confused about what CA does versus what the county does. On the CA website, we can view the following table and find CA actually is doing many things for our residents. CA contributes to funding for River Hill Community Association staff and the operations of Claret Hall, River Hill’s community center, and the Meeting Room too. The following table is extracted from CA website

River Hill Community Association

Columbia Association

Howard County

Enforcing covenants Maintaining fitness facilities,
golf clubs, tennis and basketball
courts and swimming pools
Schools and library
Advocating for residents
at the village, Columbia
and county level
Operating the Columbia Ice Rink,
Columbia Horse Center
(via lease), Columbia
Water and sewer
Facilitating information sessions
and community meetings
Operating the Columbia Art
Center, Youth and Teen Center
at the The Barn, Columbia
Archives and Volunteer Center
Serving Howard County
Road maintenance
and snow removal
Hosting individual village
events and partnering with
all villages for Columbia-wide
Providing Before and After
School Care to Howard County
Waste and recycling
Creating village master plans Developing plans to protect
and restore Columbia’s
County parks and
recreation facilities
Communicating to residents
via newsletters, websites
and social media
Organizing free summer
concerts and films at the
Downtown Columbia Lakefront
Watershed management/
Providing resources and
referral services for residents
Providing summer camps Inspections, licenses
and permits
Fostering partnerships between
villages, Columbia Association,
Howard County, local businesses, and non-profits
 Maintaining approximately
3,600 acres of open space
Planning and zoning
 Managing, maintaining and
renting out CA’s village buildings
and neighborhood centers
 Developing plans to improve
the connectivity of the
pathway system in Columbia
Historic preservation
Offering programming, including classes, camps
and lectures
Police, fire and rescue
Encouraging neighbor-to-neighbor
connectivity via
block parties, beautification
grants and block captains

2.     CA Income and Expenditures

Let’s look at CA’s income and spending. These numbers are important as a reference since CA’s board of directors is working on a new two-year budget (2017-2018). In FY2015, CA’s revenue totaled $70.576 M. CA’s Sport and Fitness programs, which includes the income from Package Plan memberships and fees for fitness classes, generated the greatest amount of income ($28.103M). The following data was extracted from “CA at a Glance, Columbia Association Annual Report 2015”:

2015 CA Incomes by Percentage

2015 CA Income by percentage

2015 CA Spending by Percentage

2015 CA Spending by percentage

  1. Large CA Vendor Expenditures in FY 2015 (quarter ended on April 30, 2015)

CA’s Annual Report itemizes all vendor spending greater than $25,000. In order for you to have a sense of CA’s large expenditures, I have listed those greater than $300,000:

Vendor Paid Description
Autlex Electric 354,971 Electrical work-various facilities
BGE 1,388,306 Utility
Brinton Building Services, Inc. 1,112,752 Construction services multiple locations
Crawford Advisors, LLC 2,907,225 Benefit advisors
DLA Piper US LLP 312,379 Legal services
Fidelity Engineering Corp 344,749 HVAC maintenance and repair Ssrvices
Fidelity Investments 2,604,275 Employer/employee 401kpension service fees
JP Morgan Chase Bank NA 1,416,928 Procurement card payments
Marsh USA, Inc. 628,544 Insurance broker and insurance Premiums
Paetec 306,632 Telephone and Internet services
Redhead Companies, Inc. 376,937 Creative advertising services
Scott-Long Construction, Inc. 4,690,871 Hobbits Glen Golf Club construction services
Shapiro &Duncan, Inc. 399,208 HVAC repair and maintenance
The Baltimore Sun 338,895 Advertising and recruiting
Two Center East Business Trust 624,158 Rent-headquarters building
Whiting-Turner Contracting 4,134,136 Haven on the Lake construction services

I am concerned about keeping CA’s expenditures reasonable and that new programs and facilities provide a good return on investment. Although the Annual Charge and membership fees increase yearly, even when there is no new construction project underway the costs of maintaining and running the facilities also rise annually. As more facilities are built, even more money is required to operate and maintain them.  The CABOD has to make difficult decisions during the budget process and cannot fund all budget requests. ………….

Thanks for reading this. Hopefully the data are . Let me know what you think and where you’d like CA to focus its efforts inFY17/18 and beyond.

Chao Wu, Ph.D.

River Hill Representative to Columbia Council

Columbia Association Board of Directors

Email:  Tel: 240-481-9637  Website:

Disclaimer: This letter only represents Dr. Chao Wu’s personal opinion. It does not represent River Hill Board of Directors nor Columbia Association’s Board.