Wednesday, August 26, 2020

It is Not.

 The Columbia Association (CA) budgeting process will begin in September and continue through February 2021. The budget is a community instrument that weighs policy priorities against resident resources. The Board of Directors will establish assessment rates to be paid by residents, set spending limitations for programs and services, and provide opportunity for public input to the Board.

The CA budget has been generally composed of an operating budget, which shows expenditures for the period, and a capital budget, which details the financial plans for capital improvements, facilities, and equipment. The two budgets may be consolidated to determine the amount of total estimated revenues available for expenses and the amount of new debt to be incurred for projects in the capital budget. 

Some would say that CA is experiencing a financial crisis; I would argue residents are frustrated from a misalignment of values and vision within the organization. This can have an impact on the success of the organization. I have been told, "think of this as a business." It is not. And, "all of the money goes into one pot." In other words, assessment dollars from residents fund the losses in the Sports and Fitness Division and other programs. While each of us could spend time discussing each of the various business components of the Association, it is my intention to focus on value and potential, that is what differentiates us from other communities. 

My personal values will serve as broad guidelines in my votes on the budget. The budget process must be open to the public. Board meetings and work sessions, as well as Audit Committee meetings, should be live-streamed and available at a subsequent time for review by video. A variety of opportunities should be available for public comment; resident speak out, zoom meetings, joint village/CA discussions, etc. Closed meetings, or meetings deemed "open" but not available for public viewing, are not a place for budget discussions or financial statement review. Minutes of closed meetings involving the budget and financial statements should be made available to the public.

Communication is integral to the successful fusion of our values and vision into the budget of the Association. As your Columbia Council Representative, I will address this issue by holding Zoom meetings available to each of you at 7 PM on Wednesday, September 9th to discuss FY 2020 and Wednesday, September 23 to discuss the first quarter of FY 2021. Zoom invitations will be made available closer to the meeting dates. Additional Zoom meetings will be announced for October, November, and December.  

Should you have any budget questions or concerns prior to this time, feel free to contact me at 443-686-0702.  

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