Baltimore County

CA adopts budget with spending cut, no hike in annual fees

Columbia residents will see no increase in their annual fees under a fiscal year 2012 budget approved Wednesday by the Columbia Association board.

The board voted 6-2 to adopt an operating budget of about $59.7 million, a decrease of $220,000, or 0.4 percent, from the previous fiscal year. Board members also voted 6-2 to approve a conditional operating budget of $60.7 million for the 2014 fiscal year.

Board members Alex Hekimian of Oakland Mills and Gregg Schwind of Hickory Ridge were the dissenting votes. Two board members were not present: Cynthia Coyle of Harper's Choice and Suzanne Waller of Town Center.

"In my view this budget is a failure," Schwind said during the meeting. "We really failed residents here, and that's a shame."

The annual charge for residents living under CA covenants did not change, remaining at 68 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

"We are not voting to increase the assessment," said Tom Coale of Dorsey's Search.

Michael Cornell of River Hill noted that while state and county governments are both raising taxes and cutting services, CA is doing neither.

"We historically have managed our financial house at a much higher level than either the state or the county," he said.

CA is expected to be in the black by more than $3.3 million in each of the next two fiscal years.

The CA board also voted 7-1 in favor of more than $9.1 million in capital projects for the 2013 fiscal year and a conditional budget of more than $13.5 million in capital projects for the 2014 fiscal year. Hekimian was the lone vote against each.

That funding incudes $4 million for renovating or replacing the golf clubhouse in Hobbit's Glen; $2 million toward a potential relocation of the CA headquarters; and nearly $1.6 million for construction on Symphony Woods Park in Downtown Columbia.

Other projects funded include upgrades to tennis courts and the clubhouse in Owen Brown ($585,000), improvements to Homespun Pond in Owen Brown ($550,000 over the next two years) and the Meeting Room in Dorsey's Search ($200,000), and planning for a dog park somewhere in Columbia ($80,000).

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