All figures referenced in this blog are either in the Board of Directors' Work Session/Meeting Packets or the CA Financial Report for the quarter ended on July 31, 2020. This information is available to the public on the CA website.
During FY 2020 (year ended April 30, 2020), the Columbia Association's (CA) Sports and Fitness Division recognized a loss of $9.6 million and is budgeted to lose $12.5 million in FY 2021. If the average residential property assessment in Columbia during FY 2020 was $1,070, approximately 23.6% of this amount, or $252.52 was used to subsidize the Sports and Fitness Division. Further, it can be projected that that during FY 2021, homeowners will pay a subsidy of $334 of the average annual assessment towards the Sports and Fitness Division.
So, who does the subsidy benefit? The membership of the Sports and Fitness Division totaled 13,931 (excluding frozen memberships) as of July 31, 2020 (4,937 were non-resident members and 8,994 were CA residents) representing a fall in memberships of approximately 32% during the first quarter. Therefore, CA assessments are covering losses for each member (resident and non-resident), at a rate of $896 annually. This should be concerning to each of us, as many of our neighbors cannot afford to participate in the CA programs because of the cost structure of the memberships, including the additional fee to access the outdoor pools.
Compounding this concern, is the fact that the FY 2021 budget includes the closure of all outdoor pools at a cost to CA of $1.4 million, including $711,000 in total personnel expenses ($533, 000 in salaries and wages, $130,000 in employee benefits, and payroll taxes of $48,000). If this figure appears high, it is because all of the Aquatic's Cost Center overhead staff has been allocated to the outdoor pools, and has not been distributed among the indoor pools. Also included in the Aquatic's Cost Center budget are Allocated Corporate Costs of $140,000 for which little value is received. In summary, Senior Management needs to account for costs of $851,000 for outdoor pools that will have been closed for eighteen months by Memorial Day, 2021. CA Board Members should continue to investigate and better understand the cost structure of the Aquatics Cost Center's budget. Further, each department within CA deserves the same scrutiny. The brunt of the current operating structure and its related losses should not be taken on by the residents of Columbia.
Outdoor pools have ranked highest on resident surveys for over twenty years. Also indicated on the surveys is the fact that most residents consider the cost of membership "too expensive." The CA Board members should reassess the FY 2021 budget as the current operating structure of the Sports and Fitness Division is not sustainable for the residents long term and does not represent the priorities of residents. CA should plan to open the outdoor pools to all residents for the summer of 2021.
Remember, outdoor pools are not only a cost center, they are also a community benefit, and the closest thing we have to community centers for our youth during the summer. CA does not have Boys and Girls Clubs or Rec Centers for children to gather with their friends, but we do have the outdoor pools which for far too long have been economically out of reach to many of the families that live in our villages. If Columbia is truly to be "a garden for the growing of people" it should begin with our families, neighbors, and friends. Each families' socioeconomic status should not limit their access to the outdoor pools, learning to swim, and CNSL (the summer swim league). CA should be willing to form strategic partnerships with the USA Swimming Foundation and the Horizon Foundation. CA does not have to "go it alone." CA should be driven by a mission of inclusivity, fueled by organizational discipline, and sustained by our spirit of community.
If you would like to discuss this and other issues involving CA, I invite residents to participate in a virtual town hall to discuss possible solutions to these concerns :
Topic: Virtual Town Hall
Time: Oct 21, 2020 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 890 6080 3943
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