Columbia Association (CA) finished the first quarter of FY2013 at $1.2 million, or 5 percent, better than budget. Total income of $41.6 million was essentially flat for the quarter, and $469,000 or 1.1 percent higher than the same period in FY2012. Total operating expenses of $15.8 million were 6.9 percent below budget, and $1 million, or 6.8 percent, higher than the first quarter of last year. Although it is early in the year, CA anticipates ending FY2013 with an increase in net assets of $4.1 million.
During the first quarter, the Finance and Internal Audit teams prepared for and participated in the annual independent audits performed by Reznick Group. The results of the audits were presented to the Audit Committee by Reznick and shared with the Board of Directors.
At the same time, the team participated in the Spectrum launch on the security; facility cash handling and close-out; billing and collections; and accounting and reporting aspects of the project.
Community Building and Sustainability
During this first quarter, the bureau continued to help Columbia remain vibrant and responsive to changes and trends that affect the whole community. A major first quarter milestone included the Howard County Planning Board’s approval of the final development plan, neighborhood design guidelines, neighborhood concept plan and implementation document for the first phase of Symphony Woods Park. Other ongoing initiatives this quarter included routine pathway widenings and improvements; tot lot replacement; the reconstruction of the Lake Kittamaqundi lakeside decking; continued work on the Active Transportation Action Agenda — a project to expand the reach and connectivity of our pathways; implementation of watershed management projects including stormwater management projects; start-up implementation of the rain garden program; completion of the Aquatics Master Plan; and initial site selection for a dog park in Columbia.
The Community Services Division finished the first quarter $700,000 ahead of budget. The positive variance over budget is primarily due to increased tuition and enrollment income from School Age Services and Camps due to increased enrollment and savings in operating supplies and fees and smaller savings throughout each of the expense lines.
Some of the important programs that are supported by the first quarter subsidy of $665,000 from the annual charge are: the Summer Lakefront Festival, Columbia Archives, Sister Cities, Columbia Art Center, Volunteer Center Serving Howard County, Youth and Teen Center @ The Barn, covenant enforcement fees and access to camps and before and after school care for income-qualified youngsters. In addition, it provides support to the village community associations in the amount of $1,168,000.
Open Space Management
The Open Space Management Division ended the first quarter better than the budget in total operating expenses by $641,000 and with a decrease in net assets of $2,928,000. This represents a favorable variance of $714,000. All of the departments in the division had total operating expenses less than the budget at the end of the first quarter.
Even considering the major storm that occurred this summer, and the greater emphasis on outdoor recycling stations, reforestation and other Open Space projects, Land Maintenance expenses were less than budget in all line items through the end of the first quarter.
The RV Storage Park was better than budget through the quarter in total operating expenses and is currently at 99 percent capacity.
By the end of the quarter, $2.9 million of annual charge revenue was used to protect and maintain the environmental assets of Columbia.
Sales and Marketing
Sales of new and renewal Package Plan memberships were up 205 memberships over the same time last year, and 125 memberships ahead of budget. During first quarter, 2,137 Columbia Cards were issued. We expect our direct mail, email marketing and print advertising campaigns to continue to bring in new members.
We grew our partnership with Howard County Tourism to promote CA activities and programs; participated in MACMA’s annual membership conference; developed a work team to promote the 50+ Expo; worked with facilities to update signage internally and externally featuring the new CA logo; continued to provide outstanding sales and service to residents who visited the Membership Service Center and Maggie J. Brown Welcome Center and developed and distributed the CA Activities Guide to 36,000 resident households.
Sport & Fitness
A number of new programs and highlights occurred during the first quarter of FY2013, including the opening of the 23 outdoor pools on Memorial Day weekend; launching Spectrum NG; offering inexpensive lessons and safety training through the “Columbia Swims” program; continuing CA’s partnership with the police on their initiative in the Community Athletic Program; offering the Columbia Neighborhood Swim League to more than 2,300 participants with 14 teams; hosting Columbia Gym’s successful Group Fitness Expo; and expanding special offers to Columbia Card holders.
The division completed the quarter 6.4 percent behind budget and is expected to also fall short of budget at year end by 13.2 percent. This is due to a large number of relatively small variances at virtually every facility. Every effort will be made over the next three quarters to focus on and improve upon these variances.