Brown offered contract extension

The Baltimore Sun

Columbia Association President Maggie J. Brown has received a contract extension offer from the board of directors.

"It's her turn now to look it over and have her lawyer look at it and decide whether to accept it," said Tom O'Connor, the board chairman.

The length of the extension has been an issue that has evenly divided the 10-member board. While five members agreed that Brown deserved the three-year extension she wanted, the others wanted a one-year deal that would allow time to conduct a nationwide search for a replacement.

Brown, 67, declined to comment about the details of the contract or if she is satisfied with the offer.

"I really have no comment because I feel any discussion at this time is about a confidential matter," said Brown, who is paid $183,000 annually and is in the last year of a three-year contract that expires April 30.

O'Connor also declined to comment on the contract's details.

Phil Marcus of Kings Contrivance, one of the most outspoken board members in opposition of Brown, praised the offer.

"I am satisfied with the offer that has been presented," he said.

Board members declined to comment about the details of the contract offer, but sources close to the association said compromises were made on both sides. Brown was the association's vice president for community services when she was hired as president in 2001. The homeowners association provides recreational services for Columbia's nearly 100,000 residents, manages more than 3,400 acres of open space and has an annual budget of about $50 million.

In November, five board members sent an e-mail to O'Connor stating that the association needs new leadership and that Brown should be given a one-year extension. Gail Broida of Town Center, Cynthia Coyle of Harper's Choice, Philip W. Kirsch of Wilde Lake, Barbara L. Russell of Oakland Mills and Marcus signed the e-mail.

The other five members, Pearl Atkinson-Stewart of Owen Brown, Miles Coffman of Hickory Ridge, Henry F. Dagenais of Long Reach, Patrick von Schlag of River Hill and O'Connor supported giving Brown a three-year extension.

The stalemate has caused tension-filled meetings.

Last month, Marcus lashed out at Brown for sending a lobbyist to Annapolis for this year's state legislative session without consulting the board. Brown defended her actions, saying it was routinely done by past presidents of the association.

O'Connor said the board could have closed sessions to go over Brown's contract recommendations before its next scheduled meeting April 26.

If the board does not vote on the contract, it will be up to a new board of directors to decide. Seven seats on the board will be decided in an April 21 election. The new members take office in May.

O'Connor said Brown could work past April 30 without a new contract, if the new board agrees.

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