Columbia plans to increase fees for nonresidents Proposed budget is 3.3% larger than current year's

December 24, 1992|By Mark Guidera | Mark Guidera,Staff Writer

The Columbia Association's proposed $30.6 million 1993-1994 budget includes hefty increases in the membership rates non-Columbians would pay to use the city's recreation facilities.

The spending plan for the unincorporated city of 68,000 marks a 3.3 percent increase from the $29.6 million operating budget for the fiscal year that ends April 1, 1993.

The proposed budget is scheduled for discussion at the Columbia Council's Dec. 29 meeting.

Early next month, the council is to make the rounds of Columbia's 10 villages to hear public comment on the budget.

Virtually all departments and programs would receive the same JTC funding they had this year, said Bob Krawczak, the association's vice president for administrative services.

Property assessment and membership sales revenues are projected to rise only slightly, by about 2 percent, he said.

Property assessments will generate an estimated $16.8 million, while membership fees and other money from recreation facilities and community programs are expected to bring in $15.6 million.

Both sources of income are slightly higher than the amounts projected for the current operating budget.

Due to the recession, building permits in Columbia have been flat and property assessments have been lower than the Columbia Association had projected last year, said Mr. Krawczak.

Those factors have kept the budget tight for the association, which manages Columbia's recreational facilities and community programs.

Columbia businesses and homeowners will continue to pay property liens of 73 cents per $100 of assessed value next year, but recreation membership rates for people who don't pay the assessment would rise between 8 percent and 18 percent under the budget proposal.

Membership rates for assessment payers, which are less than those paid by nonresidents, would rise no more than 3 percent under the proposal.

The higher rate increase for nonlien payers comes as no surprise.

The Columbia Council directed the CA staff weeks ago to widen the margin between recreational fees for lien-payers and those paid by outsiders.

The nine-member council, which acts as a board of directors for the nonprofit association, said it wanted to make Columbians feel that their assessment payment gives them advantages not offered to nonassessment payers.

"The nonassessment rates are probably a lot higher than what we would have proposed if the council hadn't said they wanted the margin widened," said Mr. Krawczak.

For example, a family "package plan" membership, which allows use of virtually all of Columbia's recreational facilities, would cost an assessment payer $525, up slightly from the current $510.

But the same membership would cost a nonlien payer $825, comparedwith $760 this year.

Mr. Krawczak said the association was unable to predict how many nonassessment payers would drop their memberships as a result of the increases.

"We don't know if it will be some or none," he said.

For capital projects, the association proposes spending $4.9 million, about $1.5 million more than the council approved last year.

Among the largest proposed capital projects:

* $520,000 for repairs to the dam at Wilde Lake.

* $290,000 for pathway and boardwalk construction in Long Reach village.

* $242,000 for repairs and improvements to neighborhood pools.

* $241,000 for purchasing construction equipment, such as trucks and trailers.

That proposal would change significantly, however, if the council approves building a golf course.

The council has been debating whether to build an 18-hole or a nine-hole course on a nearly 200-acre open site in the Town Center village.

The council decided last week to delay a decision while the proposed budget was being drafted.

Neither project would affect the 1993-1994 budget, Mr. Krawczak said, because all first-year expenses for either golf course would be borrowed.

It would not be until next year that interest payments for a new golf course would have to be factored into the association's proposed 1994-1995 budget.

The 18-hole course would cost an estimated $5.5 million, and the nine-hole option would cost about $3.8 million.

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