Columbia Association (CA) finished the first quarter of FY2014 at $1.1 million, or 4.5 percent, over the budgeted increase in net assets for the same period. Total income of $42.5 million was essentially flat for the quarter, and $829,000 or 2 percent higher than the same period in FY2013. Total operating expenses of $15.9 million were 3.8 percent below budget, and $101,000, or .6 percent, higher than the first quarter of last year. Although it is early in the year, CA anticipates ending FY2014 with an increase in net assets of $3.9 million.
During the first quarter, the Finance and Internal Audit teams prepared for and participated in the annual independent audits performed by CohnReznick. The results of the audits were presented to the Audit Committee by CohnReznick and shared with the CA Board of Directors.
The Finance team also led and participated in the document management and imaging system launch for accounts payable, purchasing and human resources. The full implementation of this system will move much of CA’s supply chain transaction handling to paperless processes.
Community Building and Sustainability
During this first quarter, interest in the rain garden program continued to increase with 36 rain gardens installed. Noteworthy accomplishments included implementation of the first phase of the garden restoration at the Kennedy gardens; landscape renovations; planting of five new bio-retention areas; completion of the Lake Kittamaqundi pathway reconstruction; replacement of the Golden Hook and Endymion Way tot lots; replacement of 12 bridges; restoration of the curvilinear section of the Town Center rock wall and replacement of the final section of the pier; replacement/installation of 2,700 linear feet of concrete sidewalk Columbia-wide; and resurfacing of 14 basketball and seven tennis courts Columbia-wide. We also received approval from Howard County’s Department of Planning and Zoning for the Columbia DogPark, continued to work on the Comprehensive Plan for Serving Older Adults, worked on the development of a Sustainability Operational Plan and monitored planning and development initiatives in Columbia. The “Planning and Development Tracker” was also updated twice monthly. The latest version is available at ColumbiaAssociation.com/pdfs/GetInformed/PlanningandDevelopmentTracker.pdf.
The Community Services Division finished the first quarter $494,000 better than budget. The positive variance is primarily due to increased tuition and enrollment income from School Age Services as a result of increased enrollment and savings in salary and wages, operating supplies, rentals and smaller savings throughout each of the expense lines.
Some of the important programs that are supported by the first quarter subsidy of $776,000 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 $1,326,000.
Open Space Management
The Open Space Management Division ended the first quarter better than budget by $434,000. Even considering the significant impact on mowing and trimming cycles due to higher than normal rainfall, the continued emphasis on outdoor recycling stations and other Open Space projects, Land Maintenance expenses were below budget in most line items through the end of the first quarter.
The RV Storage Park was below budget through the quarter in total operating expenses and is currently at 99 percent capacity.
By the end of the quarter, nearly $3.1 million of annual charge revenue was used to protect and maintain the environmental assets of Columbia.
Sales and Marketing
Total memberships were 2,130 ahead of the same time last year. This increase is primarily due to the success of Outdoor Pools/Columbia Swim Center and Hobbit’s Glen memberships. This quarter, 850 CA Points students received free memberships as a result of their exceptional work ethic and grades during the previous school year.
Columbia Association’s Sales and Marketing team develop print ads, direct mailings, online advertising, social media advertising and other tactics to promote and sell memberships and programs.
The Sales and Marketing team also continued several partnerships with Howard County Tourism, Get Active Howard County, the Howard County Office on Aging, the Choose Civility Committee and the Ethnic Community Summit.
Sport & Fitness
A number of new programs and highlights occurred during the first quarter of FY2014, including the opening of the 23 outdoor pools on Memorial Day weekend; participation in the “World’s Largest Swim Lesson” and “Goggles for Guppies”; offering inexpensive lessons and safety training through the “Columbia Swims” program; hosting the summer Kidz Triathlon at the Clemens Crossing Pool; offering the Columbia Neighborhood Swim League to more than 2,452 participants with 14 teams; launching the six-class pass for active adults ages 65 and up; launching the new group fitness pavilion at Stevens Forest Pool; beta testing a new medically-based “BOOM” program that allows participants to optimize their ability to increase lean body mass and methodically burn fat; hosting a skateboarding competition at Columbia SkatePark; and offering the First Tee programs with more than 700 participants.
The division completed the quarter 5.7 percent behind budget (due mainly to the timing of the payment of tickets for resale) but 21.2 percent ahead of where the division was at this time in FY2013. It is expected that Sport & Fitness will be slightly below (4.7 percent) below budget at the end of the year.