Columbia villages present CA with budget feedback

More funds for upkeep, improvements of pools and pathways discussed

January 22, 2004|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

Representatives of Columbia's 10 villages presented to the Columbia Association board last night their likes and dislikes of its proposed budgets for 2005 and 2006.

They told the association board that providing the necessary funding for maintenance and improvement of amenities enjoyed by Columbia residents - including pools, pathways and recreation facilities - should be budgetary priorities.

The Columbia Association has proposed a $33.5 million budget for 2005, an 8.5 percent increase in operating expenses. The projected operating budget for 2006 is $33.8 million.

Both spending documents call for a 10-cent reduction in the association's annual charge, which is based on property values. That would make the rate 63 cents per $100 of valuation, assessed on 50 percent of the fair market value of the property.

Speakers from the village associations asked the board to support budget items that affect the quality of life and economic health of the villages.

Jeff Marcus, chairman of the Dorsey's Search Village Board, asked that the board approve $20,000 in the budget to replace the lighting at Linden Hall, and $16,000 to replace the patio doors. The village association rents out the facility for events.

"The lighting fixtures have a particular propensity for sucking insects in," Marcus told the board. And he said the wood on the doors is rotting.

"It's taking care of the existing facilities and keeping them vital," he said.

Other requests included replacement of the carpeting in the loft of The Other Barn, a meeting and recreation facility in Owen Brown; improvement of the security system at Oakland, a historical home in Town Center; and completion of the pathways around Lake Kittamaqundi.

The chairwoman of Wilde Lake's village board, Sharon Vogel, asked that the association board to return to the budget $100,000 for revitalization of the Bryant Woods pool.

Each representative strongly urged the board to separate in the budgets the annual funding that the association allocates to the villages from the in-kind services it provides, such as maintenance and payment of insurance and taxes on association-owned buildings.

Others at the hearing, which was continuing late last night, were expected to address the board about the skyrocketing property assessments in Columbia. Homeowners in east Columbia received an average 33.4 increase when the state reassessed values in 2002, and the assessments jumped an average of 47.4 percent in west Columbia, where homeowners recently received their triennial reassessment notices.

This month, Del. Shane E. Pendergrass, a Democrat whose district includes east Columbia, said she may propose a 10-percent ceiling on property assessment increases, in an attempt to help property owners with the reassessments.

The board is scheduled to approve the 2005 budget next month, when it will also conditionally approve the 2006 budget. In a pilot program, this is the first year the Columbia Association is working with a biennial budget.

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