If you’re wondering what you get from Columbia Association (CA) for your annual charge, you can start by looking outside.

In addition to maintaining nearly 3,600 acres of open space and 95 miles of pathways, CA also offers free summer concerts on Lake Kittamaqundi, fishing in our many lakes, as well as other services. Providing the quality of life that has seen Columbia frequently ranked among the top places to live in America — including being named the No. 1 small city by Money Magazine in 2016 — starts with the annual charge rate paid by residents.

FY2019 Rate

The annual charge rate for FY2019 is 68 cents per $100 of valuation, assessed on 50 percent of the fair market value as determined by the state of Maryland for property tax purposes. That is almost 10 percent less than the allowable maximum of 75 cents per $100 of valuation. CA’s Board of Directors has approved the annual charge cap at 3.5 percent, which is approximately one-third of the amount allowed by law.

Columbia Association applies the same methodology used by Howard County with respect to their cap on property taxes, and they don’t apply those caps in calculating taxes due on a property in the year following the purchase. Learn more about how CA’s annual charge is assessed — and why — as well as what the annual charge cap is.

Residents contribute approximately 66 percent of the annual charge revenue, and the business community contributes 34 percent.

For information about your annual charge, email annualcharge@ColumbiaAssociation.org or call the Annual Charge Customer Service Line at 410-715-3137. Calls are answered in the order they are received.

Dues and Fees

The income provided by the annual charge, while significant, covers only slightly more than half of the cost of the services provided by Columbia Association. Therefore, some of the most popular activities, such as memberships, require the payment of dues and fees. Since CA resident members pay both membership dues and the annual charge, their dues are significantly lower than those paid by non-residents.

This approach creates a strong community balance. Those who use CA facilities and programs support the greatest portion of those costs, while the expense of maintaining and operating universal amenities like community centers, pathways, tot lots and lakes are shared by all residents. A recent survey showed that CA services are well-used and enjoyed by the community — 94 percent have used at least one of the amenities including the Open Space, and 72 percent have become members or used the sports and fitness facilities, camps, before and after school care or the Art Center on a pay-as-you-go basis.

NOTE: If you received a property tax credit from Howard County, you are eligible to receive a proportionate credit on your Columbia Association (CA) annual charge bill.

You must notify CA in writing of this credit each year. Please email a copy of the county credit to annualcharge@ColumbiaAssociation.org or mail a copy to Columbia Association, 6310 Hillside Court, Columbia, MD 21046, Attn: Annual Charge. Please be advised that state and county homestead credits are not counted towards this CA credit.