Columbia Council Rep Report

CA Board Work Session July 11, 2019

Columbia Association Board of Directors

Work Session – July 11, 2019

NANCY’S NOTES (Click here  for the meeting agenda and packet.)

Resident Speakout

George Delaney of Oakland Mills spoke about the stream bank erosion.  He and his wife have about 170 feet along a stream.  There are about thirty feet that is undergoing severe erosion.  It is more severe in some places than others.  There is a ten foot drop.  After each rain he is losing between one to three feet to this erosion.  For the past 20+ years they have lived in this house.  He feels that CA caused this damage and that the residents should not have to pay 50% of the costs to restore the land.  He thinks it can be repaired with no financial investment.  He thinks a few truckloads of boulders would remedy this problem.  He asked for CA’s help.

(Note:  Dennis Mattey, CA Director of Open Space and Facilities Services, revealed that in fact it is not a question of dumping big boulders. There is engineering that must take place and not all boulders would work.  The stream moves fast, and thus could move the boulders if not properly engineered.)

Work Session Topics:  Stream Bank Stabilization Cost Share Program

The banks are eroding at a fairly fast rate.  CA has about 35 miles of open space along streams.  It has been proposed that CA work with residents with this issue and share the cost at a 50/50 share.  CA would pay 50% and the resident would pay 50%.    Erosion rates were fairly high last year due to all the rain.  This year will likely be bad as well.

John McCoy said that if there is extreme erosion within fifty feet of the homes, they are the priority.   There is $100,000 in an annual budget.  Generally the average price is about $35,000 for CA’s cost meaning 3 houses per year would fall into this budget criteria.

CA did not cause the problems that Mr. and Mrs. Delaney are dealing with but CA would put them on the calendar to help.  But because of the twenty foot priority, they would not be helped immediately.

There is state money, i.e. SHA grant, that would help pay for the restoration of property.  The county would like to leverage CA for half the cost.  Federal government grants are difficult to get.   CA is a 501(c)4 meaning the organization cannot raise funds through donation but can lobby.  There were questions from the Board about liability and consequences.  At least one stream was created by the Glenmont development that was built in or about 1980.

Therefore, CA didn’t cause this erosion.  However, because these are properties subject to the annual charge, the Board wants to help them.    The Board needs to be assured that helping does not mean accepting liability for everyone’s problems.

Work Session Topics:  Budget Parameters, Annual Charge Rage and Cap for the Draft FY2021/FY2022 Budgets

I had asked that the staff look at membership fees.  A survey was done for CA which indicated that 1/3 of respondents said that membership fees are too high.  However, one Board member indicated that annually people complain about the rising costs but then love the improvements and new facilities.  CA simply cannot afford to both reduce costs and have updated, beautiful facilities.

I brought up the idea of raising the membership fees only 1% in the upcoming budget.  Sadly, I got nowhere.  CA does spend a lot of money on its facilities and services.   We are fortunate to live in this community, and have these facilities.

Personnel is a huge part of the increasing costs.  The minimum wage increase is a big concern.  Also CA has been improving its facilities.  The current renovation at Supreme Sports Club is the latest facility to benefit from major updates.   Annually, $5-6 million is paid on repairs and maintenance on CA facilities.   As much as I would love to lower fees, the reality is that it cannot be done.  CA already borrows several million dollars a year.

On the back of the CA annual charge bill, there is information about discounts available to some.  Please be sure to turn the page over and see if you may be a recipient of a discount.

There was discussion about how to set the budget figures.  Negotiating what will be included in the figures is yet to come.

The Board discussed the major needs for funding in the upcoming years.  Neighborhood centers, an elevator in Town Center, the continued upkeep and maintenance on the many facilities, and the continued ADA compliance updates to CA facilities all will cost CA in the future.  Making the budget decisions are difficult.

Please feel free to contact me regarding your thoughts about the upcoming budget.

There will be special work session on October 17.  The first budget hearing will be in September.

I would like to share a quote from the meeting:  “Outdoor pools are like apple pie.”    In other words, they don’t even come close to paying for themselves.  There are 23 of them after all.  But the pools are an integral part of Columbia.  Who wants to give up apple pie?

Stay dry, cool and safe this summer.



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