Columbia Association ends fiscal year with a surplus; Figure is $1.4 million; several facilities fall well short of projections


The Columbia Association ended last fiscal year with $1.4 million more in the bank than expected, but several facilities - including the Columbia Gym, the horse center and Fairway Hills Golf Club - continued to fall well short of budget projections.

The homeowners group finished fiscal year 2000, which ended April 30, with a $3.5 million surplus, according to a report being presented to the association board of directors tonight. The bigger surplus resulted mainly from more than expected assessment revenue, lower depreciation because of delayed capital projects and lower personnel costs because of vacancies.

The Supreme Sports Club enjoyed its best year, more than doubling its projected positive bottom line from $314,000 to $741,000 on healthy membership sales.

Among the highlights of the year-end report:

The Columbia Gym, a multimillion-dollar facility in River Hill that opened six months behind schedule, in December 1998, lost $338,000, over $300,000 more than expected in part because of higher salary and operational expenses and the delayed opening. But the report calls the current trends there "very favorable" and says the facility is expected to surpass budget projections this fiscal year.

The Columbia Horse Center ended a tumultuous year nearly $300,000 in the red - more than twice the projected shortfall. The Columbia Council, which serves simultaneously as the Columbia Association board of directors, is considering whether to continue managing the facility, lease it, or sell it.

More rounds of golf were played at Fairway Hills last year, but not as many as projected. The course, the association's second, ended $44,000 short of budget, or $453,000 in the red. It has lost nearly $900,000 in the past two years.

Despite stepped-up marketing efforts, use of Sportspark in Harper's Choice Village Center has been "disappointing," the report says. The park lost $245,000 during the year ending April 30, $143,000 more than expected. By contrast, the new Skatepark there ended the year $47,000 ahead of budget.

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