What You Should Know About the FY2023 Budget
Every year, CA’s Board of Directors is responsible for reviewing, refining and ultimately approving the annual budget. The latest process is just wrapping up for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023, which begins on May 1, 2022, and ends April 20, 2023.
During its regularly scheduled meeting on February 24, 2022, the Board voted to approve the budget for FY2023. Click here to watch that meeting in its entirety (discussion starts around 42:17 followed by discussion and votes on the annual charge rate/cap, the capital budget, the operating budget and reallocation of capital funds from previous years for the Sixpence tot lot replacement).
You may have noticed some new things about this year’s budget process. In fact, a majority of those who got involved did so for the first time. The following is an overview of the process we went through and the engagement we saw.
Months of engagement and feedback
The FY23 budget process began in July 2021 when the Board of Directors defined a series of scenarios. This exercise was intended to help define priorities and trade-offs for the upcoming budget. Those three test case budget scenarios were presented to the Board in October. You can click here to watch a recording of that meeting on the CA Live Stream YouTube page.
Next, CA initiated a number of public engagement efforts aimed at involving the community in the budget considerations. That included an online survey, where more than 450 people expressed their priorities for the organization.
Additionally, CA hosted a special budget information session on November 4, 2021, where the public was invited to get their questions answered about the test case scenarios and how a shift in priorities could impact other areas of CA. Nearly 40 people attended that information session, and staff took the time to answer nearly 40 questions from our community. Click here to watch presentations from CA leadership as well as the Q&A portion of that information session.
The Board discussed the budget in November and December. From there, CA staff followed the Board’s guidance and drafted a budget that reflects the priorities and trade-offs defined throughout the first phase of this process. That draft was published online and released to the Board on January 21, 2022. You can find the full draft budget and a transmittal letter from the President/CEO on the Financial Reports page.
The public was once again invited to participate in an online survey, responding directly to the draft budget. We received 380 responses to this survey. Here are some of our key takeaways:
- Our community values the opportunity to provide input, and the vast majority of people who participated (nearly 70% of survey respondents) had never engaged in the budget process prior to this.
- Accessibility to CA facilities and programs matters to the public, supporting the Board’s guidance to emphasize and grow that capacity in the upcoming fiscal year.
- Stewardship in our open space continues to be one of the most important investments our stakeholders want to see us make.
While the online survey was the most comprehensive and easiest way to capture input, the public was also welcome to submit comments to the CA Board virtually and/or participate in Resident Speakout at any Board of Directors meeting, which many residents did. All Board of Directors meetings are streamed live on the CA Live Stream YouTube page.
Final deliberations and voting took place on Thursday, February 24, 2022. Click here to watch that meeting in its entirety.
The approved FY2023 budget
The finalized FY23 budget that has been approved by CA’s Board of Directors takes a number of key issues into consideration.
Accessibility is a priority
Public input confirmed the Board’s desire to prioritize accessibility in the upcoming budget, understanding that everyone should be provided with opportunities to make the most of life through CA. The organization was already working hard to invest in opportunities that provide a full range of accessibility to everyone in our community. That includes people of different ages, races, socioeconomic circumstances, abilities and all other demographic distinctions. With the approved FY23 plan, we continue to invest in the programs and services that make CA more accessible. This latest budget affirms the CA’s commitment to improving the communications surrounding the options we offer and how people can take advantage of those.
During the course of the budget process, Howard County not only introduced but also passed legislation that raises the minimum wage above the State of Maryland increases. CA will experience two incremental increases to minimum wage in the next fiscal year. The impact of the increased minimum wage and related anticipated pay compression (in total, approximately $625,000 in compensation before payroll taxes and benefits) is reflected in the finalized FY23 budget. You can find more detailed information on the impact to CA personnel in page 4 and 5 of this transmittal letter.
Increase in capital budget
The Board of Directors has approved a capital budget of $11 million, an increase of almost 38% over the FY22 capital budget. This means CA will invest more of its resources into maintaining and repairing the infrastructure you use every day, including projects like repairs and upgrades to various tot lots, renovations at Historic Oakland and Stonehouse/Columbia Art Center, “going green” projects and more.
All outdoor pools reopening in the summer
The approved FY23 budget includes funding to open and operate all 23 outdoor pools across Columbia. CA and the Board of Directors understand that having these cherished community assets closed throughout the pandemic was difficult for many. However, ensuring that we can keep all of our pools open is contingent on hiring and retaining enough lifeguards and pool managers throughout the summer. If you or someone you know is interested in being a CA lifeguard or pool manager this summer, click here to learn more and apply at ColumbiaAssociation.org/careers.
Annual Charge remains steady
While your payment amount may increase due to the likely rising value of your home, the components of the Annual Charge will remain consistent with the current fiscal year. That means for the 19th consecutive year, the annual charge rate will be $0.68 per $100 of assessed valuation. The cap will be held at 3.5%, as it has been since FY 2017. The average household in Columbia pays about $3.03 per day for a property valued at $325,000 (the average value per CA residential property).
Again, the FY23 budget will take effect May 1, 2022. In the meantime, we encourage residents to stay involved and engaged with CA. One key opportunity that is fast approaching is the upcoming village and CA Board election day in April. You can also connect with the Columbia Conversation Facebook group, CA social media channels (follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), as well as volunteer opportunities in our open space.
CA will continue to work on improving the budget process, particularly when it comes to providing relevant context for informed feedback. If you have any feedback or suggestions for our next effort, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you to everyone who got involved, and stay tuned for input opportunities for FY24.