Columbia Gym, SportsPark exceeding budgets

Sport division braces for first deficit in 10 years

January 07, 2000|By Erika Niedowski | Erika Niedowski,SUN STAFF

The Columbia Association gym in River Hill is expected to end its fiscal year $400,000 over budget, and its sport and fitness division is on track to run a deficit for the first time in 10 years.

The Columbia Gym, which opened in December 1998, has exceeded its income goals for the year by about $375,000, but showed nearly $575,000 more in expenses than officials projected last year.

Rob Goldman, head of the association's sport and fitness division, said salary and wage expenses were $457,000 over budget because of the need for more staff to serve the large number of families with young children; higher wages because of a tight job market; and "poor" budgeting of personnel costs in the DaySpa and housekeeping.

Operating supplies cost $115,000 over budget primarily because of "unexpected" one-time expenses in the DaySpa, computer lab, camps and nursery, he said.

The Columbia Council approved building the multimillion-dollar health club by one vote in 1997 after extensive debate. Alex Hekimian, a former council member who voted against the gym, called it a "major disappointment" yesterday.

"[The deficit] was completely unexpected," Hekimian said. "I think it says something about all the hype that went into promoting that particular facility."

The proposed budget for the next fiscal year projects the Columbia Gym will lose $416,000. The fiscal year ends April 30.

According to the association's board of directors' report for the quarter that ended Oct. 31, another facility in the sport and fitness division, the SportsPark, also is expected to finish the year well over budget.

The SportsPark's income will fall $145,000 short of projections because of "considerably less" usage than expected, despite a series of cost-saving measures and an extensive marketing effort.

The facility, located behind the Harper's Choice village center, includes a miniature golf course, batting cages, ball fields and a skateboard park.

After 10 years of producing budget surpluses, the sport and fitness division is on track to end the year nearly $300,000 in the red.

"Every possible short-term and long-term income-producing and expense-savings possibility is being analyzed, and actions are already being implemented in an effort to decrease the budget deficit," Goldman wrote in the board report.

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