A spokesperson for Columbia Association responded Wednesday evening to allegations it was witholding specific salary information of its employees by saying it was an effort to protect "personal finance information."
David Greisman, CA spokesperson, wrote in an email to Patch that CA didn't release exact salary information for 40 to 50 employees to the Alliance for a Better Columbia due to a perceived ambiguity in the Homeowners Association Act.
Greisman wrote CA released 86 pages of documents in a chart form listing every CA employee, not by name (which is not required by law) but by position.
Thomas D. Scott, the president of the Alliance, that those documents, provided to the Alliance in 2009, contained ranges of salaries for several positions, which made it hard to tell how much the employees were being paid.
In 2010, the Alliance received an opinion from Dan Friedman, the counsel to the General Assembly, that stated he believed, under the law, that providing a range of salaries is unacceptable because "a homeowners' association will certainly have additional documents with more precise information pertaining to its employees' salaries."
Greisman wrote that several of the association's top officials' salaries are already listed in CA's Form 990, which is submitted annually to the IRS.
Approximately 40 percent of CA's operating expenses is spent on employee salaries, incentives and benefits, according to the association's budget.
"What was not included, however," wrote Greisman, "were those who were sole occupants of a position but who were not already disclosed in the IRS filings. In those cases, we provided a salary range for those positions."
The reason being was because the CA believed under the law that an HOA did not have to provide information on personal financial records, according to Greisman.
"CA, by law, had to provide salary info, but there remained a question of exactly what," wrote Greisman.
Despite this, after years of wrangling with the Alliance for a Better Columbia, the CA has recently agreed to release a complete list of all its employees with exact compensation information for every position, including salary and a second column with any bonuses, according to Greisman.
"We are in the process of compiling salary information and providing that by the end of the month," wrote Greisman.
He said that even as CA works to support a bill that would change the designation of the association from a "homeowners association" to a "nonprofit community service corporation," that all salary information will continue to be released under the terms of the new bill.
Scott recently expressed his dismay that if CA were to change its designation, then it wouldn't be subject to the state's Homeowners Association Act, which has specific disclosure requirements.
He said the move was being made to attempt to "hide the salaries and bonuses of the people who run the CA," according to a Baltimore Sun article.
Greisman wrote that assertion is incorrect.
Sheri Fanaroff, CA counsel, said the measure would spare CA from having to spend money and staff to review the many amendments introduced to the Homeowners Assocation Act every legislative session, according to the Sun article.