Columbia Council Rep Report

CA Board Meeting May 28, 2020

Columbia Association Board of Directors Meeting

Thursday, May 28, 2020


(Click here to view the meeting agenda and packet.)


The Board is still meeting virtually.  Here is the latest meeting news.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me with your questions or concerns.  [email protected]


Again, there was no resident speak out for this meeting


Board Discussion:  Proposed Revisions to the FY2021 Operating Budget

The budget needs further changes as the pandemic continues to do its damage to CA along with other businesses. This is the 3rd revision to the formerly agreed upon budget.


Susan Krabbe, CA Chief Financial Officer, explained to the board the latest needed changes to the budget. On February 20, the initial FY2021 budget was approved. On March 15 facilities were closed and CA began to feel the financial impact of COVID-19.

On April 23, the budget was revised.  Additional revisions must be made due to changes in assumptions for programs and expenses. At the end of April senior staff took a 50% pay reduction.


CA has worked to retain as many employees employed as possible.  About 90% were either laid off or took reductions in pay.  Staff had had their 401K cut in half.  All non- emergency costs were eliminated. The projected furlough period is now the end of August.  There have also been more layoffs.


Golf courses and two of three outdoor tennis facilities are open for singles players.  That will bring in some funds to CA.   As clubs reopen, it is expected that membership will be reduced because of capacity.  Some parts of clubs may need to be closed.   The opening of clubs is expected in phase 2.


There has been a 14% increase in CA’s insurance costs.  CA has a great record but it is the insurance companies’ way to cover all potential expenses with a large pool of users.  Sadly it hit hard this year when the organization could least afford it.


Open Space maintenance has been reduced along with a reduction in staff.  The Art Center is basically shut down which is a cost saving.


CA proposes an annual charge share reduction for the villages again.  The villages are now being asked to look at the cost for the villages to pursue their mission.  There is a facility cost credit that CA could use now.  The facilities that villages use are owned by CA. The original money due to villages was $3.4 million.


Depreciation and capital improvements are costs for facilities.  Combined with the villages’ missions it is about $6.4 million.  About half of the costs to the villages are for the buildings.  If CA took on the cost of the facilities and the villages did their jobs as their mission’s state, it would help save some money. Now it is being recommended that there is a credit for the facilities costs.  Even while the buildings are closed, there are costs involved.  The reduction sought, 75% of the subsidy for the facilities is the reduction that CA is requesting.  The board discussed the new reduction of 5% – which added to the original 8.58% is now just below 14% overall reduction to the villages this year.


CA is currently planning day by day and hopes not have to do further reductions.  However, to put it simply, the numbers keep changing and CA needs to do all that is needed to be here when this is over.


The Board received current financial information regarding each department at CA and how it is impacted by the current situation.  Basically the news is bad.  CA is hoping to begin reopening facilities in September.  Stay tuned.  As things change, I will do all I can to get that information to you.


Board Discussion:  Policy on E-Scooters

There is change in the state legislature which now classifies the e-scooters as bicycles.  There is also an e-scooter sharing company expected to move into Columbia.  E-scooters are therefore allowed to operate anywhere that bicycles are allowed to operate.  This is applicable to public right of ways.  Because CA’s private pathway system works into the public roadways, CA needs to resolve the issue whether or not to allow these e-scooters on pathways.   E-bicycles are currently allowed.


There is some concern about safety issues using e-scooters.   They would not be a big problem on the 10 ft. wide pathways, but on the other pathways, it is a concern.  In some locations, communities have put up signs to have the e-scooters use the right or left and walkers on the other side.  This will likely be needed here.


There will be geo-tracking devises on the scooters.   In order for the e-scooter company to function on CA pathways, there needs to be an agreement between the two entities, CA and the scooter vendor.


On the commercial side of the e-scooters, the Howard County Office of Transportation has notified CA that several landowners have agreed that Columbia is a great place for the e-scooters.  There is a permit process for the e-scooters companies and the scooters themselves.  Because the pathways are so integral to the city, it looks like a number of these vendors will start bringing in these scooters by June or July.    The enforcement factor will be enforcing the rules and regs of the e-scooters.  The speeds and locations of vehicles can be restricted.  The geo tracking on the vehicles will help control the behavior of users.


There will be a liability agreement between the user and the vendor.  Also the vendor will hold CA harmless in the proposed agreement.  There will be 100-200 scooters.  There are two primary zones, downtown and crossover to Oakland Mills. But the scooters can travel anywhere the user chooses.   Helmets are required for those older than 16 years.  This is a county regulation.   This will help those who take public transportation.   The user will be able to get directly to their proposed destination rather than the bus leaving them a mile or so from where they need to go.  But the vendor needs to be reclaimed by those scooters that users leave wherever they so choose.  This is a concern.


Board Discussion:  Update on the Howard County General Plan

Every 10 years, legislation requires the general plan is updated.  Guidelines are to be provided by the Planning Board for everyone to follow.  In June this will begin with public input or community engagement.  There are several phases to the development of the plan.  In 2021, design charrettes are expected.   It will be about Gateway and Snowden.  Downtown will not be included.    Hopefully, COVID-19 will be behind us so this can all take place along with in person meetings of the community.


I spoke to the Board about my concern that CA has not communicated with the community about what is happening at CA.  I find that a major faux pas and I hope it will be resolved soon.   Others agreed.  It is critical that we get the word out to the community about what is happening with CA.  I have sent a message to the Wilde Lake community to inform them.  Please let me know if you have any questions.


I wish you all well and good health.




Nancy McCord

[email protected]