CA Board approves employee incentive bonuses

The Columbia Association Board of Directors suspended its rules Thursday evening to approve the allocation of $283,000 for an incentivized employee bonus program.

The annual program, which rewards employees with a bonus of up to 5 percent of salary for achieving a series of goals, usually does not come before the board for approval and is activated by a series of conditions in the annual operating budget, according to Chief Financial Officer Susan Krabbe.

However, when the board approved the Inner Arbor Plan, a new concept for Symphony Woods Park, earlier this year, it unknowingly transferred $1.6 million allocated for the park from CA's capital budget to the operating budget, which upset the formula for the program.

In a memo to the Board, Krabbe explains the issue:

"CA would have met the Board-approved calculation for funding annual performance incentives for FY 2013, excluding the Inner Arbor transaction of $1.6 million approved by the Board on February 14, 2013," she wrote.

"The commitment to transfer the existing budgeted amount for Symphony Woods of $1.6 million represents a liability that must be recorded on CA’s books, regardless of when the actual transfers take place. As this transaction is an operating expense to CA, it decreases the 'bottom line' by that amount."

Krabbe said approximately 100 employees are eligible to receive bonuses. 

And because the issue was only detected in May, after the Board approved the budget, the Board would have had to approve the transfer on Thursday or its next meeting on May 30, according to Krabbe.

The board approved the allocation by a vote of 6-2-1, with Harper's Choice representative Cynthia Coyle and Oakland Mills representative Alex Hekimain voting against. Kings Contriviance representative Brian Dunn abstained.

"I feel this is just a what pot is the money in situation," said Long Reach representative Russ Swatek, who made the motion to approve the allocation.

"It is not fair to punish the employees of the organization for a political vote," said Dorsey's Search representative Tom Coale. "I do wish we had known the accounting implications, but I don’t think its fair to punish CA employees."

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