The Columbia Association (CA) finished the second quarter of FY2013 nearly $1.4 million, or 7.8 percent higher than budget. Total income of $48.9 million was essentially flat compared to budget and to the same period in FY 12.
Total operating expenses of $29.7 million were 5.7 percent below budget, and $1.1 million, or 4 percent, higher than this period last year. At the half-way point in the fiscal year, CA anticipates ending FY 13 with an increase in net assets of $4.4 million.
The Finance Service Bureau team continues to work very hard on the full implementation of Spectrum and to resolve work out issues as they arise. The team is working actively with the software provider to ensure a consistent billing process, have reports developed for account reconciliation, and to correct set-ups and other processes in multiple areas of the organization. Several team members participated in the software provider’s user summit and engaged directly with the software development team and other users to address challenges with the system, particularly the accounting, billing and reporting functionality.
Community Building and Sustainability
During this second quarter, the Community Building and Sustainability Service Bureau continued to help Columbia remain vibrant and responsive to changes and trends that affect the community.
A major second quarter milestone included the completion of Connecting Columbia: An Action Agenda for Active Transportation, which the Columbia Association Board of Directors accepted and filed in October. Other on-going initiatives this quarter included routine pathway widenings and improvements; tot lot replacements; reconstruction of the Lake Kittamaqundi lakeside decking and commencement of the rock wall repairs at the southern end of the plaza; implementation of watershed management projects including stormwater management projects and residential rain garden installations; and continued planning for a potential dog park.
The Community Services Division finished the second quarter $719,000 below budget and $68,000 lower than last year. The positive budget variance is primarily due to increased tuition and enrollment income from School Age Services and Camps due to increased enrollment and savings in salary and wages, operating supplies and fees and smaller savings throughout each of the expense lines.
Some of the important programs that are supported by the second quarter subsidy of $1,257,000 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 $2,418,000.
Open Space Management
The Open Space Management Division completed the second quarter of the fiscal year below budget in total operating expenses by $1,311,000 and with a decrease in net assets of $5,679,000. This represents a favorable variance of $1,563,000 from budget. All departments in the division had total operating expenses less than the budget through the quarter.
The Land Maintenance Department expenses were less than budget in all line items through the second quarter. A revised approach to the implementation of the Lake Elkhorn watershed retrofit projects, and a timing variance in the development of a water quality monitoring plan, kept costs down through this typically busy period.
The RV Storage Park is better than budget through the quarter in both income and total operating expenses. The RV Park is at 99 percent capacity at this time.
The Administration Department expenses were less than budget in all but one line item through the second quarter.
The current estimate shows that by year’s end, a total of $13,644,000 of annual charge revenue will be required to protect, improve and maintain the environmental assets of Columbia.
Sales and Marketing
Sales of new and renewal Package Plan memberships were down 890 memberships versus same time last year, and 802 memberships behind budget. During second quarter 631 Columbia cards have been issued. We expect our direct mail, email marketing and print advertising campaigns to continue to bring in new members.
We grew our partnership with the Howard County Office of Tourism & Promotion to promote CA activities and programs; participated in the Mid-Atlantic Club Management Association’s (MACMA) annual membership conference; developed a campaign for CA’s first Rock Your Jeans fitness program, in partnership with Macy’s; participated as a major sponsor in in 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.
Sports and Fitness
A number of new programs and highlights occurred during the first two quarters 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 department on its 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; expanding special offers to Columbia Card holders; offering the Rock Your Jeans fitness program with 22 teams and 40 participants; and launching the Aquatics Master Plan studies for SplashDown replacement and conversion of an outdoor pool for more year-round lap swimming opportunities.
The division completed the second quarter significantly behind budget and is expected to fall short of budget at year end by 15.7 percent. The quarterly shortfall is largely a result of the new Spectrum NG computer system which enables CA to defer all fee income until the service is provided.
While this lag in income will continue throughout the year and at year-end, due to the growth in personal training income and the emphasis division-wide on increasing non-membership dues revenue, it is projected that the fees income division-wide will have only a minor shortfall (2.1 percent) at year end.