Columbia Association board expects surplus


Despite worries about future competition from private health clubs, the Columbia Association expects to end the current fiscal year with a $2.6 million surplus, CA's board has been told.

The expected surplus, based on second-quarter earnings, is $47,000 less than had been projected because of increased operating costs during the quarter, which ended Oct. 31. Employee benefits, salary and wages also are up.

The financial report also shows a $308,000 increase in revenues from CA memberships. The increase is attributed to CA's marketing campaign, said Rob Goldman, the association's vice president for sports and fitness.

"We have been marketing very hard, promoting the fact that we significantly improved Supreme Sports Club," Goldman said Friday, one day after the CA board received the second-quarter earnings report at its semi-monthly board meeting.

The association has put extensive energy and dollars into its sporting facilities after Life Time Fitness obtained a contract to open a facility off Robert Fulton Drive in Columbia early next year.

Improvements to CA's Supreme Sports Club - which will be the closest facility to Life Time Fitness - included increased exercise space and equipment, painting of the building's exterior, added art in the foyer, renovation of the exterior signs, new furniture and a plasma television in the lobby lounge.

During Thursday's meeting, Goldman told CA board members that while the number of CA memberships are increasing, the number of Package Plans, its once-best-selling grouping of family recreational memberships, is decreasing. Goldman said it was a result of marketing for Package Plan Plus, a larger group of facilities.

Package Plan Plus grants members the same access as the more basic plan to most of the association's facilities - including 23 outdoor pools, three gyms, two golf clubs, indoor and outdoor tennis courts and an ice rink - as well as the women's gym and specialty classes. It also includes access to special equipment, programs and personal services at the health clubs.

"Still, overall, membership is up," he said.

In other news, Rachelina Bonacci, executive director of the tourism council for Howard County Tourism Inc., gave a presentation for the Blossoms of Hope program, a plan for planting 1,000 cherry trees in Howard County.

The board asked CA staff to review Bonacci's suggestions and present a report to the board.

Pearl Atkinson-Stewart, board member from Owen Brown - which includes Lake Elkhorn, Columbia's largest lake - said she would support the addition of the trees to Columbia's lakes.

"I'm pretty sure we would support that and it would be a good idea," she said.

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