Columbia Association is poised for a surplus

Budget report projects it will close fiscal year $4.8 million in the black

April 15, 2002|By Laura Cadiz | Laura Cadiz,SUN STAFF

The Columbia Association is on track to finish its fiscal year with a surplus of $4.8 million, according to a report presented to its board of directors.

Association President Maggie J. Brown presented the budget report Thursday night and said the homeowners association ended the third quarter $2.7 million ahead of estimates. The projected $4.8 million surplus is nearly $2.2 million more than projected.

"We've had, in my opinion, a very good year," Brown said after the meeting. "The staff has managed the budgets extraordinarily well."

Brown said part of the reason the association is doing so well financially is it delayed borrowing $20 million in a bond until the middle of its fiscal year - May 1 to April 30 - when interest rates were lower. The association also received unexpected money when the Gateway Industrial Park was developed earlier than expected, she said, adding to the association's assessment income.

Brown said the association intends to use the surplus for capital projects, which reduces borrowing money. "We're always reinvesting in the buildings and the various assets we do have," she said.

But despite the surplus, some divisions are operating programs with deficits.

In the sports and fitness division, the department was expected to be in the red by more than $1 million by its third quarter - which ended Jan. 31 - but lost $626,000. The division is projected to have a $1.1 million deficit by the end of the fiscal year, or $615,000 better than expected.

The Columbia Horse Center lost $82,000 in the third quarter, though it was expected to lose $110,000. By the end of the fiscal year, the horse center is projected to have a $116,000 deficit, compared with the $145,000 expected shortage.

Last fiscal year, the center off Gorman Road lost $417,000, twice as much as had been expected.

The outdoor pools operated with a deficit of more than $1 million in the third quarter and are expected to have $1.5 million in loses at the fiscal year's end, $57,000 less than estimated. The budget report credits money saved on utilities, repairs, maintenance and interest expense for the difference.

Both Hobbit's Glen and Fairways Hills golf courses have deficits. Hobbit's Glen ended the third quarter $243,000 in the red, and it is expected to have a $272,000 deficit - $50,000 more than expected - by the end of this month. Rainy weather in May and June and damage to the greens in August and September contributed to the losses, according to the report.

Fairway Hills is projected to end the fiscal year with $405,000 in losses - $30,000 better than estimated. It ended the third quarter with a $315,000 deficit.

The community services division experienced a $4.2 million deficit at the end of the third quarter and is projected to end the year $749,000 better than projected, but with $5.5 million in losses.

Based on third quarter earnings, the division's camps budget is projected to have a $147,000 deficit - $51,000 less than estimated - partly because of an increased enrollment, according to the report.

The administrative services division is expected to lose $1.7 million by the end of April, which is $203,000 less than projected. Part of the savings is realized from vacant positions, which the report shows would save CA $33,000 in salary and wages by the end of the fiscal year.

The open space management division closed the third quarter with more than $7 million in losses and is projected to end the fiscal year $805,000 better than estimated, with a deficit of $9.5 million.

Brown said uncontrollable variables contribute to losses, such as inclement weather at the golf courses. But she said she is impressed with the high enrollment in the community programs and how the staff has worked to decrease deficits.

"We're right on target," Brown said. "And we have focused our attention to [deficit] areas so that we are where we are at today."

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