Columbia Council hears wish list from villages Columbia Association's spendable surplus is a first

October 23, 1998|By Erika Niedowski | Erika Niedowski,SUN STAFF

Facing the first fiscal year in which the Columbia Association will have a spendable surplus, the Columbia Council last night heard the financial wishes of the planned community's 10 villages during the annual unveiling of pre-budget requests.

At least two villages -- Dorsey's Search and Harper's Choice -- have suggested using the projected fiscal year 2000 surplus to reduce the rate of assessment for the lien fee, a kind of property "tax" on Columbia homeowners, as well as lower the cost of the Package Plan, a membership package that provides residents admission to certain community pools and health clubs.

In addition to requesting that Lake Elkhorn be dredged, the village of Owen Brown has proposed earmarking funds for annual village audits, to be scheduled on a rotating basis. An association audit of Dorsey's Search alleged that the former village manager there embezzled more than $120,000 during her 10 years in that post, according to a civil petition filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Baltimore in July. The former manager is under investigation but has not been charged by police.

Another pre-budget suggestion from Columbia's newest village, River Hill, was possible financial compensation for the 10 elected members of the Columbia Council, who serve one- or two-year terms but are unpaid.

Other highlights include a call from Kings Contrivance for a fenced-in dog park -- similar to ones in Catonsville and in Fairfax and Arlington counties in Northern Virginia -- where dogs could run and "interact," and a request from Oakland Mills that the Columbia Association provide more ice rink parking.

The coming fiscal year is the first in which the association, which oversees Columbia, will have a surplus to spend; until now, any surplus has been put toward paying down the association's $28 million accumulated deficit.

Pub Date: 10/23/98

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