Columbians need more information about alternatives...

LETTERS

May 07, 2000

Columbians need more information about alternatives

With the departure of Deborah McCarty and the formation of a new Columbia Council, this is a critical time in the history of Columbia ("McCarty exit has Columbia planning," April 30).

This is not a time to let the activism and energy of the last few months wane.

Many voices have been calling for change in the governing structure of the Columbia Association.

But change that will provide direction for this community must be carefully studied and properly presented to the residents so that they can understand it, accept it and put it into practice.

This community deserves a thorough review of the current organization and of all viable options such as incorporation, or other fundamental changes.

The pros and cons of each option should be weighed and presented; this is information Columbians desperately need.

Unfortunately, while there has been plenty of rhetoric, we've gotten precious little information in the last few weeks.

But neither the Columbia Association nor the Columbia Council can provide the needed information. An experienced, independent consultant should be retained to lead this study.

We believe it is the Columbia Association's responsibility to fund this study.

Choosing the independent consultant is a delicate task which neither the council nor the CA can perform on their own.

A more fair and inclusive approach would be to form a task force that includes representatives from such interests as Columbia's villages, the Columbia Association, the Columbia Council, the Howard County government and the incorporation movement.

All of these groups should provide input.

This is not the time to sell homeowners short. We can not settle for "lip service." We must not let this opportunity slip by.

Now is the time to press for the important information that we need to decide whether major changes are necessary.

Allowing the Columbia Council or Columbia Association to direct a consultant's review of their own governance structure sounds like letting the fox guard the chicken house. Let's not settle for that.

Mark Janick

Lenna Janick

Columbia

Municipality status would help Columbia

The trouble with the Columbia Association is it is trying to go beyond its original charter. A homeowners association of this size cannot be run efficiently.

The system has too many inherent flaws. Our village representation system, for instance, is like the U.S. Senate when it should be like the House of Representatives.

Another flaw in the governing structure is that our elections are held at an absurd time of the year. They belong in November -- to coincide with the state and federal elections; if they were, we wouldn't have to struggle to get a 10 percent turnout for our elections.

Why do many residents believe that becoming a municipality would necessarily mean higher taxes? Has anyone contacted any of the state's more than 150 municipalities to check tax rates before and after incorporation?

And has anyone considered the off-setting advantage of a lower property tax?

What about the millions of dollars in state-shared revenues that a city would receive? Our homeowner's association is not eligible to receive these monies.

Another advantage of incorporation is that if the city bond rating went up, loan rates would go down.

Clearly incorporation would help Columbia and Columbians. The Rouse Co. will fight it every step of the way.

Is there anyone out there willing to learn the facts surrounding incorporation? Your current opinion doesn't matter. What matters is what the facts reveal as to whether or not incorporation is worthwhile.

I am willing to abide by those findings, are you?

Neil Noble

Columbia

At any cost, McCarty's is a boon to Columbia

Columbians have paid dearly for the reign of Columbia Association president Deborah O. McCarty.

First, they suffered through two years of ineptitude as she attempted to disguise her inability to lead by accusing the community of being "resistant to change." That cost them $130,000 annually.

More recently, the contract price for her being relieved from office without cause rose magically from $65,000 to $200,000.

In spite of all of that, its a sweet deal for the residents of Columbia.

Charles A. Adams

Ellicott City

The CA is really just a nonprofit corporation

I've been amazed to read repeatedly in The Sun that the president of the Columbia Association (CA) is the equivalent of a mayor. This is simply not true.

Does CA have a police force or a fire-rescue service?

Does CA take care of roads, provide water or sewer service or administer public schools?

No. CA builds and operates fitness centers, golf courses and swimming pools. CA schedules aerobics classes, paves and maintains pathways, mows grass and plants flowers.

The Columbia Parks and Recreation Association (CA for short) is a nonprofit company established to create and operate parks and recreational facilities.

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