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Recreation revenues likely to rise Columbia group expects good year


The Columbia Association projects that the current budget year will be among the best ever for producing revenue and increasing membership and participation at town recreational facilities.

The association's third-quarter financial report for fiscal 1993 predicted that membership income will increase 11 percent to $7.7 million from $6.9 million.

The new estimate exceeds the original projection by about $666,000.

The budget for fiscal 1993, which ends April 30, is $31.7 million. The third-quarter financial analysis, which the Columbia Council approved last night, covers activity through Jan. 31.

All the association's membership services facilities -- including pools, the golf course, the ice rink, tennis and athletic clubs -- have produced more revenue thus far in the 1992-93 budget year than expected, according to the report. The association expects there will be 1.5 million visits to its recreational facilities this year.

"The results are shown not only in the bottom line but in enjoyment of the programs. That's positive," said president Padraic M. Kennedy. He said that the high participation figures bode well for generating income in future budget years.

On the down side, the association is projecting a shortfall of $349,000 in revenue it collects from annual property charges, or liens. It attributes the shortfall to a slowdown in new construction and the relatively small increase in assessed property values compared with previous years.

Interest payments are forecast to be $440,000 higher than expected because the association issued $5 million in bonds after the fiscal 1993 budget was adopted to take advantage of low interest rates. Money from bond issues is used to finance construction projects.

Overall, the association said that "strong performances" by its membership and community services divisions would offset the shortfall in property charges and increased interest payments. The nonprofit association will fall $157,000 short of its goal to reduce its deficit by about 9 percent this year, according to the analysis.

The association said that the deficit would be reduced by about $1.9 million in fiscal 1993, from $22.4 million to $20.5 million.

The deficit represents an accumulation of operating losses incurred over the years. It creates a financial burden on residents.

Mr. Kennedy said the association is on course to eliminate the deficit by 2000.

Most of Columbia's services and facilities generate less income than they cost to operate. But most of the projected revenue from property charges -- $13.5 million of a total of $17 million -- will be applied to cover the deficit.

Council member Gail Bailey of Long Reach questioned whether the Horse Center benefits nonresidents more than residents. The center is expected to generate $37,000 in income and cost $105,000 to operate.

Community services -- including a new singles organization, the ColumBus system, summer camps, and the Oakland meeting and reception hall -- are ahead of original income and participation projections, according to the report.

Council member Karen Kuecker of Owen Brown asked if the Columbia Teen Center could find a way to spend a projected $7,000 surplus. "I hate to see money not being spent," she said.

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