Columbia Council Rep Report

CA Board Work Session July 9, 2020

Columbia Association Board of Directors Work Session – July 9, 2020


Click here to view the agenda and meeting packet.

Due to COVID-19, the CA Board of Directors continues to meet virtually.

Resident Speakout

There were no residents to speak out this evening.

The Board opened the discussion about the Work Session operating as a closed session.  Some voted to not approve the agenda until there was a discussion about opening this meeting to the public.  The IT department needs to explain what the issue is with opening the meeting to allow residents to listen to the meeting as it takes place.

Work Session Topics:  Budget Schedule for FY2022

Ordinarily the process starts in July.  Because this year is unique, it will begin it in September.  In February. a conditional budget was approved.  The FY2022 budget needs to be completely revised.  In September, there be a better idea of how the annual charge revenue and revenue from the recreational facilities is going.

There will then be more information at hand.  The draft budget will be delivered January 8, 2021.  The end of February 2021 will be when the Board approves the FY2022 budget.

The Board discussed the possible issue of an annual charge increase.  One Board member suggested that the rate should not be increased because many people cannot afford to pay any more than they do.  I spoke up about increasing the rate at a minimum of $.01 or $.02.   This could help alleviate the financial crunch CA finds itself.

Next week, CA will send out letters to stakeholders to find out what they want to see and what changes are expected from CA.  People can make requests for the budget process.  The Board needs to determine what the essential CA services are.  The Board will vote in two weeks when and how to move forward with the budget.  Will we work to increase the rate?  That remains to be seen.

 Work Session Topics: Discussion of the Most Recent Development Tracker

The Hammond High School project was discussed last week at the county. There was a question about open space being counted at the school.  A sidewalk is desired adjacent to the school.

Discussions about the Erickson and the Hickory Ridge Village Center projects are ongoing.   These projects continue through the county process.

The Starbucks project at Snowden will be discussed again at the county next week.

Work Session Topics:  Capital Projects and Open Space Updates

Stream stabilization is taking place near Rustling Leaf.

Phase One of the clay courts at Hobbits Glen is completed.  The courts are now reopened.

Basketball courts have reopened.

There is a weed harvester that is hitting the three main lakes.  The back country areas are not getting the same coverage, but the high use areas are getting the same pre-COVID attention it had all along.

A number of people are using the lake pathways so these areas are being maintained.

The Board was shown a video of how the Fairway Hills bridge was constructed on site.

 Work Session Topics:  Status Report on the FY2021 Operating Budget

The annual charge statements have gone out.   So far there has been a good response.  As of this week $1.2 million has been received in payments.  Cash flow is tracking well.

How are gyms, golf courses and tennis courts going?  They are going very well.  Gyms tracking at 30% of normal use.  Swim Center is tracking at about 90%.

Programming is on track with what is happening nationwide.  Overall, staff is happy to be back and engaging.  The members are also happy.  Staffing is scaled to match the use of the facilities.   Therefore not all staff is back.

The question of the $10 a month fee to freeze memberships was discussed.  Dan Burns, CA Director of Sports and Fitness, said that members could freeze membership for $10 or cancel and come back at whatever is the prevailing rate at the time.

The staff was also asked why suddenly the Villages are told if they want the air purification fans, then the Villages must pay in a CA owned building.  Jeremy Scharfenberg, CA Energy Manager, has visited each of the facilities to determine needs.  If something is above and beyond what is expected, CA expects the Villages to pay.  UV fans are not part of the HVAC system.  CA is only covering costs that the county requires.  Anything above and beyond what is required is to be paid by the Villages.   There was a good deal of discussion about the UV fans that would help keep the air inside facilities cleaner.  Long Reach had one installed without having asked for it.   So CA will have to eat that cost.  CA had told the Board and the Villages that those fans would be installed and paid by CA and then suddenly changed their tune.  The cost of each with installation is about $4,000.  The buildings are owned by CA.

There were a number of questions about open space and the workers.  Open Space continues to use contract workers as well as CA employees.  There was concern that the first concern should be with keeping CA employees working.  Staff said that they have been using contract workers and will continue to use them.

Work Session Topics:  Follow-up Discussion on the Howard County General Plan Update and Process

Howard County is expected to move forward with meetings to take up the zoning plans.  DPZ does not yet have an answer as to when the meetings will start up again.

There will be a series of work sessions – New Town visioning process with consultants that CA has hired.  Each Village is asked to have one person represent their Village at these sessions along with the CA representatives.  It can be the Village Manager or one representative from the Village Board who is invited to attend these work sessions.   The process allows Board members to participate and share our vision of what we want to see for Columbia in the future.    There will be seven sessions on Thursday and Tuesday evenings from July 30 to December 3.

There was discussion about last evening’s joint CA-Villages meeting.  Nina Basu should be congratulated.  She did a great job putting this together.  Several people spoke about it as a positive experience.  I had spoken up about it being a poor event as far as enhancing the relationships with the Villages.  There was no engagement with the Village Chairs and Managers.  There was no discussion about how to improve communications.   Some talked about hiring a facilitator for future meetings like this.  Eventually some talked about how the Villages weren’t being taken seriously and weren’t treated as they should be treated, as equal partners.  There should have been more dialogue.  It was a missed opportunitynot to have the President speak.   It was suggested that there are quarterly work sessions with the Village Managers and Chairs.   One Board member said it shouldn’t be more than twice a year.  The leadership of the meetings should be shared.  Suggestions were made but there was no follow through.

Proposed New Topics

Shari Zaret suggested that the Board create a new communication working group.  It should be composed of three members that coordinate with CA staff.  The benefit would be to help develop more rapid and multi-mode communications with the community and partners.  CA has furloughed the communication staff.  There is now only one person who is not able to communicate fully and rapidly with stakeholders.  This is urgent.  A clear plan for the next six to twelve months must be developed.

Streaming work sessions will be voted on at the next meeting.  Work sessions haven’t been streamed but because of the pandemic, the Board wants people to be able to access our meetings live.  Let’s see how the vote goes in two weeks.

Next week, the CA Board will be meeting with the chairs of the advisory committees.  The representative of the committee will present a page to the liaison so the Board can ask questions of them based on the page that has been presented.

Stay safe everyone.  Warm regards,


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