There’s a foreboding tone coming out of the Columbia Association these days. There’s talk of lowered expectations. There’s talk of asking for a county or state bailout. The CA President is saying “We don’t want to ruin bond ratings.”
In a story posted this afternoon over at Explore Howard, Jennifer Broadwater details a meeting held last night. The news is not good. The cost of properly dredging Lake Kittamaquandi has swelled by an additional $2.25 million dollars. This is on top of the $1.3 million dollars added to the budget to finish the dredging project at Lake Elkhorn.
A sub-committee of the CA Board of Directors has recommended an $1.3 million increase in funds for the project. However, this will not remove all the accumulated sediment in Lake Kittamaquandi, it will only allow for critical areas to be dredged.
CA Board member Alex Hekimian (OM) remarks in the article appear to be targeted toward local and state governments:
“What’s going on at Lake Kittamaqundi is not just a Columbia problem. This is not just Columbia’s downtown. This is Howard County’s downtown.”
And I am at a loss who CA Board Chair Coyle is addressing her remarks:
“We’re taking our responsibility very seriously to clean up the environment,” she said. “But you know we’re not solely responsible.”
However, she does have her sacred cow:
But Coyle said she is not comfortable with dipping into funding for Symphony Woods, the 38-acre downtown property where the association plans to add a fountain, paths and other park features to draw more visitors.
“I am very worried about that,” Coyle said. “I’m completely against taking a nickel out of next year’s (Symphony Woods) budget.”
As we look at this mess, we should try to understand how bad this is. It’s not Lehman Brothers bad, CA is not going away. It’s not General Motors bad, CA will not be taken over by the State or County government.
CA is just hard pressed right now to come up with the cash they need. They have a lot of valuable assests. They have a good revenue stream (we will collectively have to cough up another $30 million next July when we pay our liens). CA doesn’t have a problem with insolvency, they have a problem with liquidity. Which sounds a little bit like another major landowner in downtown Columbia.