Overview of Approved CA FY2019-2020 Budget (The Villager 2018-03)

Overview of Approved CA FY2019-2020 Budget

The article is published on The Villager of River Hill Community Association, 2018-03 issue.

On Thursday, February 22, the Columbia Association’s (CA) Board of Directors approved the FY2019 and Conditional FY2020 Budget. In FY 2019-2020, the annual charge rate will be $0.68 of every 100 dollars of the assessed value of the property with a 3.5% cap. I made a motion to bring down the annual charge rate to $0.65 (around 4.4% decrease) which failed. I will continue advocating for a lower annual charge rate in the future. I believe many residents are negatively impacted by this high annual charge fee due to the cap being increase from 2.5% to 3.5% and the continued rise of property values in our community. The membership fee also keeps climbing up each year. I believe that by lowering the cap, Columbia residents will have more disposable income to purchase CA fitness memberships that will offset the loss of assessment share income.

I made a motion to remove approximately $200,000 dollars in funding for village sign replacement since a majority of villages do not like the new sign design. This motion passed. During the budget process, the Board had a lot of discussion on the membership fee, construction of modular houses for Columbia Horse Center, maintenance of CA bridges and tunnels, the outlook for Haven on the Lake, and funding to the Inner Arbor Trust for pathway construction in Symphony Woods. An overview of the approved budget is given below.

Total FY19 budgeted revenue and annual borrowings are $81,798,000. The breakdown by source is provided below ($000’s):

Interest and other $972 (1.2%)
Borrowing $7,316 (8.9%)
Commercial Annual Charge $14,160 (17.3%)
Residential Annual Charge $26,296 (32.2%)
Community Services Programs, $4,775 (5.8%)
Sport and Fitness Income, $28,279(34.6%)

In FY19, the $81,798,000 will be used in the following ways (000’s):

Sport and Fitness Programs and Facilities: $29,371 (35.9%)
Contingencies/other $506 (0.6%)
Administrative Services $2,289 (2.8%)
Village Community Associations $5,411 (6.6%)
Community Services Programs $7,827 (9.6%)
Capital Expenditures $20,000 (24.5%)
Debt Repayment $1,895 (2.3%)
Board of Directors $1,002 (1.2%)
Open Space Management $13,497 (16.5%)

Major capital projects (greater than $500,000) approved for FY19 and FY 20 include:

Columbia Swim Center – Phase III Renovations $1,225,000
Watershed improvement projects $710,000
Athletic Club – Phase II Renovations $5,000,000
Columbia Gym – HVAC $600,000
Horse Center – Facility Assessment Survey Items $655,000
Supreme Sports Club Renovation $4,700,000
Haven on the Lake – Site Renovation $1,000,000
Slayton House-Theater Renovations $515,000
Columbia-Wide HVAC Systems $600,000
Columbia-Wide Watershed Stabilization $850,000
Columbia Wide Ponds Dredging and Repairs $846,000
Lake Elkhorn Planning and Dredging $1,090,000
Equipment and Vehicles $800,000
Sport and Fitness Facilities and Equipment Upgrades $550,000
Columbia-Wide Bridge Replacement $615,000
Columbia-Wide Pathway Renovations $1,000,000
Aquatics- Hawthorn ADA-Complaint Wading Pool $500,000
Headquarters Building –Reserve for Deposit $1,100,000
Stonehouse – Full Building Renovation $750,000

To view more information on CA’s FY19/20 budget, visit: www.columbiaassociation.org/budget.

Chao Wu, Ph.D.
River Hill Representative to Columbia Council and Columbia Association Board of Directors

Email: superbwu@gmail.com Website: http://www.chaowu.org

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.

Summary of CA Board Meeting of 2018-2-22

Resident Speakout:

Judy Neckrite., from River Hill, advocating for Columbia Arts Center

Crissy Simpson, advocating for the Columbia Arts Center

Percy, advocating for Columbia Arts Center

Anne Misita, for Columbia Arts Center

Elisabeth Hoffman, advocating for Arts Center

Tim Lattimer, celebrating his Birthday tonight with supporting the Climate Change and Sustainability Advisory Committee.

Joel, Hurewitz, supporting the Climate Advisory Committee, and a state house bill HB 1568, and a bill in the state house (Public Service Companies – Facility Equipment – Removal, http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?id=HB1568&stab=01&pid=billpage&tab=subject3&ys=2018RS) , taking about how CA should deal with many more competitions from other fitness providers for similar services CA offer.

Nina Basu, chair of Long Reach Village Board,  supporting a phased-in Orchard Plan for mixed use village center. They want to make sure Columbia Arts Center stay.

President’s Report:

The CA development tracker is back online and Long Reach Tennis Court will be available by March.

Board Votes:

  1. The Annual Charge rate of $0.68 and cap of 3.5 percent proposed for the FY 2019 and conditional FY 2020 budgets.  The board approved this rate and cap.   (My amendment to reduce annual charge rate from $0.68 to $0.65 failed.  I will keep pushing to lower the annual charge rate.)
  2. Rates for memberships, daily fees and admissions for Sport and Fitness facilities, School Age Services monthly rates and rates for Open Space Management facilities.
    1. The board failed Gregg’s amendment (%10 reduction of membership fee).
    2. The board failed Gregg’s amendment (holding the membership fee the same as 2018 year, i.e., holding the 2.5% increase of membership fee)
    3. The board tabled Gregg’s amendment ( re-define the family membership to include single parent family).
    4. The board tabled Gregg’s motion from 4-13.
  3. The proposed FY 2019 Capital Budget
    1. Ginny motioned to add a condition on 1 million dollar investment on the Haven on the Lake. The motion was approved.
    2. Nancy motioned to take out 250,000 (put 100,000 in 2020 as placeholder) from Lakefront Master Plan Design. and The motion was approved.
    3. I made a motion to remove the money from village sign replacement of 135,000 in 2019 and 53,000 in 2020. The motion passed.
  4. The proposed FY 2019 Operating Budget
    1. The board made conditions to give money to Inner Arbor Trust. The CA board need to approve the pathway plan to give IAT money.
    2. The board approved the amended 2019 operating budget.
  5. The board approved the proposed conditional FY 2020 Capital Budget
  6. The conditional FY 2020 Operating Budget . The board approved it.
  7. The board approved the amended charter for the Climate and Sustainability Advisory Committee.

The meeting ended around 11:50 PM. We had not had such a long meeting for a while.



2018 CA Budget Public Hearing (The Villager, 2018-02)

2018 Columbia Association Budget Public Hearing Summary and Other News

The article will be published in the River Hill “The Villager”, 2018 February Issue.

Columbia Association News

The Columbia Association’s (CA) board of directors has been discussing the 2019-2020 budget for several months and held a budget public forum on January 18.

During the public forum, the CA board heard the following testimonies:

  1. One village association asked for specific facility upgrades and funding for special programs. They also expressed dissatisfaction with the assessment share and contingency fund decisions made by the CA board earlier in the budget process.
  2. Several organizations asked for continued support of the Columbia Council of Arts and the Columbia Downtown Partnership.
  3. The Howard County Pickleball Association asked for support of pickleball activities by sharing courts with tennis court or building a dedicated indoor pickleball court.
  4. The CA Aquatics Advisory Committee requested a new 25-yard indoor swimming pool. In 2017, CA and Howard County conducted a joint study for 50-meter pool and could not find an appropriate location.
  5. Several people and organizations, either supported or opposed CA giving more than $500,000 to Inner Arbor Trust for pathway construction in Symphony Woods. A playground in Symphony Woods was also discussed. For information purposes, a 1-acre playground costs around one million dollars.

The CA board is expected to vote on the budget at the February 22 board meeting. The board would still like to hear your input. Send your comments to: Board.Members@ColumbiaAssociation.org.

River Hill News

Dalia Shlash, the River Hill board’s open space liaison, held a community meeting on January 18 to discuss site selection and upgrades for two tot lots in River Hill. Based on feedback from residents and CA, the Indian Summer Drive tot lot (RH25) and the River Run tot lot (RH4) are the locations that the association will likely recommend to CA for upgrades. The Association did hear from residents requesting upgrades to the South Wind Circle tot lot (RH22). The Association will consider requesting upgrades to this tot lot in a future phase.

The River Hill community association continues to actively share its views on the River Hill Square and Erickson Senior Living developments near the village.

Chao Wu, Ph.D.

River Hill Representative to Columbia Council and Columbia Association Board of Directors

Email: superbwu@gmail.com Website: http://www.chaowu.org

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.

Summary of CA Board Meeting 2018-1-25

Resident Speakout

  1. Linda Wingel, from Town Center Village Board, talked about the Lakefront development. The new plan was quite different from original plan (2010). She did not like it.
  2. Marcie White, from Oakland Mill, supported Inner Arbor Trust funding, expressed satisfaction with CA’s pathway improvement along Lake Kittamaqundi.
  3. Tim Lattin, talked about Climate community activities happened after CA endorsed the Paris Climate Pact.
  4. Joel Hurwitz, HoCo Indivisible, talked about climate committee, lakefront design, possible handling of American City.


The board heard reports from the presidents, Inner Arbor Trust and

Update from Lakefront Design Guidelines.

  1. One 1/18/2018, DPZ recommended approval of the Lakefront Core Neighborhood Concept Plan, Neighborhood Design Guidelines, Implementation Plan and Final Development Plan.
  2. The scale and height (both in meter and in story) has been a debating topic.
  3. Parking is another debating issue.  There will be no public parking, but private parking public available.
  4. Wincopin Connector will come back. “The Wincopin extension will improve connectivity for all transportation modes and increase the viability of retail uses along the new street. This new portion of Wincopin, adjacent to the Lakefront Plaza, should be designed to extend the plaza up to the building face of the future development, with corresponding design elements that could include flush curbs, special paving/pavers, and/or bollards. Having the ability to close down this section of the street will allow for greater flexibility for programmed events, temporary outdoor dining, and community festivals.”
  5. People Tree will stay in the Lakefront Area.

Board Action:

  1. The board approved the appointment of the Kings Contrivance Representative to the Watershed Advisory Committee.
  2. The board approved transfer of capital funds in watershed-related capital projects between fiscal years.
  3. The board approved several land easements.
  4. The board asked staff  to draft a charter for a climate advisory committee for approval in February board meeting.

Board Discussion:

  1. Organization to invite to the April 2018 Stakeholders Dinner: Board of Directors of Howard Community College, Executive of Howard General Hospital.
  2. CA Dashboard (700-800 employee membership)

3. The staff will come out with a metrics or an indicator how our members participates.


3. The average NPS score is 43.














Summary of 2018-1-18 CA Budget Public Forum

I am just capturing some key points from everybody who spoke that night.


  1. Town Center Village Association, Lynn Foehrkolb. They are requesting a playground in 2019-2020 year in the Symphony Woods. They want to work with Inner Arbor Trust to expedite the pathway there.
  2. Oakland Mill Village Association, Jonathon Edelson, They talked about contingency fund and assessment share causing issue to their village. They wanted a second-level restroom ,  replacement floor covering the Loft, dumbwaiter replacement, security system upgrade, replacement HAVC in the Loft, Assessible restroom in Talbott Springs neighborhood center, funding for a property standards evaluator and continuous ice rink improvement.
  3. King’s Contrivance, Briand Dunn, ( speak on be half of himself), support funding for Columbia Downtown Partnership and IAT.
  4. Howard County Economic Authority, Larry Twele, asking for continuous support on the Columbia Council of Arts and Columbia Downtown Partnership
  5. Howard County Pickleball Association , Joanne Grcisser . They have 150 members now, around 17 showed up in the meeting, 14 are CA members. They want share space with tennis court or concert some tennis court to pickleball court.
  6. Columbia Festival of Arts, Director, Dave  Phillips, Director, Susie, Board of Trustee,
  7. Howard County Citizen Association, JD Smith, Brian England (they were not representing HCCA board). They wanted CA to stop giving IAT more money until it proves it can raise substantial private funds., support Cy Paumier’s original plan (this is not HCCA board stand), enforce covenant at industrial and business area, connect business with safe side walk and pathway in Columbia.
  8. CA Aquatic Advisory Committee, Bill Santos, he stated 2013 study found no options for 50-meter indoor pool, supported a 25-yard indoor pool, either in Locust Park Pool or adjacent to the Dasher Green Pool. Feasibility study will cost 50,000.
  9. Columbia Downtown Partnership, Phillip Dodge, executive director. talked about thriving downtown and need support.
  10. CA Health and Fitness Advisory Committee, Jessica R., support Athletic Club renovation


11)  Karen Douglus, volunteer of Columbia Festival of Arts, found 200 volunteers for the event.

12 ) Jervis Dorton, against more money to IAT, like to serve in an advisory committee for IAT if such committee exists

13) Joel Hurewitz, a) the overpass bridget at Harper’s Choice should be repaired (cheaper) b) against money to IAT (IAT should be self financed now) and encouraged supporters donating the home at will c) Phase out money to Columbia Downtown Partnership, d) get more electric utility cars/trucks

14) Bill Woodstock ( left earlier)

15) Cy Paumier, promoting the original Symphony Woods Plan

16) Heidi Knott, Oakland Mill, supporting Oakland Mill board budget request. Older village need more repairs now.

17) Nina Basu, Inner Arbor Trust President and CEO, support investment/funding to IAT, festival of arts and downtown partnership, can build a playground if the money is there( cost  1 million dollars for 1 acer playground) , request funding for pathway and rain garden ( half a million dollar)

18) Deb Jung ( pronounced Young), talked about great downtown events, Athletic Club needs a social space, support IAT plan, and promoting leaf collecting service to CA resident.

2018 CA Budget Public Forum 3


Where Does CA’s Money Go

Where Does CA’s Money Go?

This article is published on the January 2018 issue of  “The Villager”.

In this issue, I am writing to show how costly it is for the Columbia Association (CA) to maintain and fix its current facilities.  This article partially responds to the question I heard during the holidays, “Where does CA’s money go?” Many residents see their annual charge continuing to increase and the gym membership is more expensive than ever.

As a CA board member, I want to make sure the association is spending its money wisely. CA has an annual budget of approximately $70 Million. Besides our human resource costs (the organization has around 270 full-time employees and 700 part-time employees), the Association must continually make capital improvements that come at a cost.

In June 2016, the CA board was presented with a 5-year capital improvement plan. Based on recently conducted facility assessments, the plan estimated the following replacement costs (in 2016 dollars) for 7 buildings:

Athletic Club replacement                  $24M

Ice Rink replacement                          $16.5M

Art Center replacement                      $3.3M

Stonehouse replacement                     $6.5M

The Other Barn replacement              $4.5M

Teen Center replacement                    $3.5M

Maintenance Facility replacement     $11.5M

As an alternative to full replacement, the report also identified needed improvements, upgrades, and repairs for each of these buildings. Ultimately, the CA board only approved funds for improvements to the Ice Rink (FY18) and the Athletic Club in (FY18-19). The proposed FY19/20 budget finishes this work and starts improvements for the Art Center and Stonehouse. In addition to these facilities, CA still has the Supreme Sports Club, Slayton House, Kahler Hall and many other facilities which need upgrades and repairs.

Five Year Capital Spending Budget

The 5-year capital improvement plan estimated that the following capital budgets were needed just to maintain, repair, and upgrade existing facilities:

FY2018           $23.2M

FY2019           $19.6M

FY2020           $17.8M

FY2021           $16.5M

FY2022           $17.5M

These budgets do not include things like dredging Lake Elkhorn, the rental of CA’s headquarters building, or construction of any new facilities. Over the next ten years, the organization needs $5M just for pond management. Using this information, a priority list was established and the CA Board budgeted money for the Ice Rink and Athletic Club. In FY19/20, we plan to spend $4.7M on the Supreme Sports Club. Into the foreseeable future, CA will continue to have multi-million-dollar capital requirements to repair/upgrade/maintain our facilities and associated items. Any decision to construct a new facility will require additional capital funding and as well as operating funds.

Renovation or New Construction

Of course, when presented with the costs of fixing/repairing/upgrading a facility, the CA Board should look at whether a replacement would be more cost effective. In fact, when considering how to proceed with the Hobbits Glen Clubhouse and Owen Brown Tennis Bubble, the CA Board decided that replacement made better economic sense. Therefore, a new Hobbit’s Glen Clubhouse was built, and a new indoor tennis facility is under construction in the Village of Long Reach.

Happy New Year and I am looking forward to hearing from you.

Chao Wu, Ph.D.

River Hill Representative to Columbia Council and Columbia Association Board of Directors

Email: superbwu@gmail.com Website: http://www.chaowu.org

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.


2018-1-The Villager Cover