The Columbia Association (CA) board of Directors has significant power and responsibility for distributing our annual assessment for the benefit of open space, village associations, and community amenities-neighborhood centers, outdoor pools, and playgrounds. It is within this context that the Board should evaluate its budgeting process and set CA on a trajectory of informed decision making by collaborating with Columbia residents and village associations during all phases of the budgeting process. Effectively, the residents, villages, and Board of Directors should communicate its budgeting priorities to the Senior Leadership Team to be compiled into a budget document.
The Board reviewed the FY 2022 Operating and Capital Budget, as presented by the Senior Leadership Team, and after several meetings, the Board only agreed to amend the budget by $8,000. Budgets are much more than just numbers, and my budget vote against the Senior Leadership Proposal was not about the dollars and cents, it was about public values.
CA should recommit itself to investing in and revitalizing our shared community facilities-outdoor pools, neighborhood centers, and playgrounds. No longer should these amenities be stripped of the funding necessary to maintain their structural integrity to apply our assessment dollars to finance the losses in the Sports and Fitness Division, estimated to be $11.3 million in FY 2021 and budgeted to be $12.5 million in FY 2022. Losses of this magnitude are not sustainable over the long term and require the attention of the Board of Directors.
Lastly, the Board of Directors should seek to develop effective strategic partnerships with Howard County, the State of Maryland, and private foundations to improve community programming, better protect our open space, and manage our watershed areas. Further, the Board should establish a transparent and inclusive process to study each of these concerns and foster the vibrant multigenerational community that is Columbia.
I will be discussing many of these concepts over the next several blog posts to better inform the residents of the financial position of CA.