Council Corner: Beginning the Budgeting Process

The fall season brings the start of the new school year for students (and a new pre-school year for my son), the return of football season, and the beginning of the budgeting process for the Columbia Association. Residents who wish to participate in this process are encouraged to submit their ideas and concerns either online at www.ColumbiaAssociation.org/budget or to testify during resident speak-out at an upcoming work session or board meeting.

One key step in the process is for the Board to determine the Annual Charge rate and cap for the next fiscal year. During last year’s budget process, the Board did not change the rate, which is currently 68 cents per $100 of half the assessed value. Despite this, when many residents opened their Columbia Association bill this past summer, they may have seen their annual charge increase. This increase would be due to the rising property values which have occurred across the region, which the annual charge is based upon.

Another important step in the budgeting process is allocating funds for each of the operational departments as well as determining the amount of funding for capital expenses. Included with the annual charge bill that residents received is a high-level overview of these allocations for the current fiscal year. However, the Columbia Association’s budget is much more complex than can fit on this leaflet as it is well over 150 pages in length. One of the confusing aspects of the budget is how administrative services are allocated. While the leaflet shows administrative expenses at around $4M, this does not account for another $7M of administrative expenses that are allocated to the various departments. Thus, the total amount of administrative expense is actually over $11M, which is similar to the amount of funding allocated for capital projects in FY23.

When the Board approaches next year’s budget, it is important to make sure that each department has sufficient funding to maintain a high level of service to the organization and the residents. Furthermore, the Board also needs to ensure that we are investing in the future by allocating enough funding for capital projects. Therefore, it is important that all aspects of the organization are run as efficiently as possible so that more of the annual charge dollars can be allocated to programming, services, and improvements to the Columbia Association’s infrastructure.

Eric Greenberg is the River Hill Representative to Columbia Council and the CA Board of Directors.
Email: Eric.Greenberg@ca-board.org.

Disclaimer: This column reflects the views of Eric Greenberg only and not those of the CA Board or the River Hill Board of Directors.