The recent comments to Reston Association’s proposed budget process are welcome, and yes, expected. I actually agree with most, as budgeting, especially when future financing is involved, will create a maelstrom of commentary. Know this -- nothing that has been proposed is in concrete; this is where we want the community to get involved.
While I agree this is not a time to get loose with our budget policy, I will also say we have paid the price long enough to maintain an austere budget. Little has changed with Reston Association's budget practices for decades. Yet we must manage and maintain the equivalent of a large township, that is aging and growing at the same time.
John Farrell is correct, RA needs to get a better handle on its capital project planning, and we need to be at the front of the line when it comes to proffer dollars, to alleviate the additional strain new and proposed development will have on our cherished assets and infrastructure.
As we discuss this, here are some tidbits to think about. Today Reston represents over 20,000 households with nearly 60,000 people. There are 133 cluster associations, 30 condominium associations, 4,800 single family homes and 17 apartment buildings.
To give you an idea of what Reston is in terms of assets, we manage and maintain:
· A six acre maintenance facility/warehouse and associated vehicles and equipment
· 1,350 acres of land in over 375 legal parcels
· Four lakes and three ponds
· Four very large, well-engineered, dams
· A 72-acre nature center – the Nature House -- a year-round environmental learning center.
· 55 miles of paved pathways
· Eight miles of natural surface trails
· 107 bridges, 25 underpasses, 378 lights
· 15 outdoor pools, including a 50-meter pool
· 52 outdoor tennis courts - 26 lighted and eight clay and 4 are for 10 and under play
· 30 multi-purpose courts
· 15 picnic pavilions and arbors
· 35 "totlot” playgrounds
· 22 ball fields
· Two community buildings
· 113 picnic tables, 308 trash cans, 18 play fields
· 27 asphalt and four gravel parking lots
· 124 recreational vehicle spaces for members/40 for canoes and kayaks
If anyone has seen our Central Facility, and the equipment needed to keep this community going, or one of our dams from going into disarray, you know the costs associated with maintaining what we have. Did you know we have a lot of infrastructure underground, like spillways?
There are costs associated with running and maintaining a pool... imagine 15. What does it cost to maintain a tennis court? How about 52? As well as mowing all of the fields, maintaining the common areas and asphalt paths. Snow removal?
What about our systems? We are using IT software solutions that are out of date and very costly to maintain, some over 15 years old.
While RA's headcount has remained basically the same for decades we depend more and more on volunteers to make our community as vibrant as it can be. Thank goodness for community spirit!!
For years we've managed to keep the doors open -- but nothing else in terms of improvements -- and not doing what was needed then, is hurting us now. This board will not pass these matters onto future boards and the community. We can start addressing these items now.
Via a spreadsheet? Where budgeting is primarily a numbers game. Make the revenue match the expenses. Show lots of complicated financial information. Adhering to: “Trust me; it all adds up.”
Or, magic? The manager is the magician. "You just tell me what you want, and I’ll make it work.”
Or the hatchet? Where budgeting means start chopping. Make across-the-board cuts where all programs and services are diluted. “Do more with less.”
Or, aim: Budgeting focuses the organization on outcomes people care about at a price they are willing to pay. The motto: “What’s the best way to get these results?”
I prefer the last... Help us get there, by continuing to share your ideas...