High Maintenance

Reston is 47. I am 47. We're both gonna need some work.

Each April, when Reston celebrates Robert E. Simon's birthday and Reston's birthday, I don't need to do much math.

Reston and I were both born in 1964. We're both 47, and it is getting more expensive to keep up appearances.

Our annual fees will be $565 in 2012. In 2000, they were $375. That's an increase of nearly 60 percent.

There has been lots of griping in the community about the rising costs of assessments. As a citizen of Reston, am I happy to be writing a bigger check? Of course not. But I accept it.

There was a time, say 1989, when I could eat nachos and my skinny jeans fit without a problem. I could stay out all night and show up for work on two hours of sleep and do it all again the next day. I wore cheap clothes and drove a two-seater car.  I had two roommates and lived in Arlington, where my share of the rent was $315 a month.

I am middle aged now. I need an hour of cardio a day for my jeans to fit. I need expensive makeup and lots of sleep. My car has four doors and legroom. Often, my electric bill alone is $315 a month. Although I have not tallied it up, I am certain that some months I spend more than the RA annual assessment amount on personal maintenance.

We both have an aging infrastructure, Reston and I. Pool house roofs, bike path paving, tree pruning, lake dredging. Crow's feet, teeth whitening, cracked heels, muffin top. It's all the same.

Just like gas isn't going to cost $1.75 a gallon again, the days of the $300 annual assessment are gone. My skinny jeans are a couple of sizes up and so are our fees.

Sure, you could live in a place that isn't a Planned Residential Community. You also could jog in traffic instead of on 55 miles of RA paths. You could shell out big bucks for swim clubs and summer camps instead of the pretty reasonably priced RA opportunities.

What's that, you say? You don't have kids and you don't jog? Again, you could live somewhere else and keep your $565 a year.

While I respect political beliefs of all stripes,  I don't get the appeal of Reston for those in favor of smaller government. When you buy a home in Reston, whether it was in 1970 or last week, the transaction can't go to settlement until you receive a big, fat binder from RA that outlines in black and white all the rules about living in this PRC.

There are annual assessment fees. You have to pay them. They may rise. Also, you may not paint your house pink if it is not in the approved pallete and you may not store a boat in your driveway.

In return, you get a bunch of amenities. It's up to you whether you use them, but you can't get out of paying for them.

It would be so nice if Reston and I did not have 47-year-old responsibilities. It would be awesome if the did not need a new water pump and my 28-year-old house didn't need a new heat pump.

It would be wonderful if I could take my 565 bucks and not send it to RA but instead use it for anything from a really good couple of dinners ator perhaps to help my elderly parents. Hey! My teenager doesn't even attend RA day camp anymore? Shouldn't I get an exemption?

I think I will march up to RA and tell them assessments should be $300, I should weigh 125 and my mortgage should be no higher than the rent I paid 22 years ago in South Arlington. I will let you know how that works out.

Then I will go down the street to and pay $150 (without tip) for color and highlights (without those, I would be the same gray as Heron House).

The point is, you can't stop time. But if you want to age well, it's going to cost you.

Jonathan Erickson November 29, 2011 at 11:41 AM
I do not see Mr. Hopkins as a board member. What is it he does for his 100k plus? Over 6 million dollars in wages please tell me the top ten salaries, I am very curious!!
Karen Goff November 29, 2011 at 12:31 PM
For the fifth time, the board members are not paid. David Hopkins is the CFO. You do understand that your inquires are taking up a lot of my time. For the sixth time, if you want the answers to all of your questions, many of which have already been answered, contact Reston Association. Public information officer Amelia Townsend can answer them; amelia@reston.org.
Jonathan Erickson November 29, 2011 at 12:49 PM
David earned 146,917 in 2009 from the RA that doesen't sound like volunteer work to me. Quit answering my questions without answers, maybe someone else can weigh in with concrete answers instead of web sites. 6,6 million dollars in wages and compensation is a question that shouldn't be that hard to figure out. Site when my question was answered or get out of the way.
Karen Goff November 29, 2011 at 01:16 PM
I just said, he is the CFO and not a board member volunteer. Thus, the $146K salary.
Karen Goff November 29, 2011 at 01:17 PM
Again, if you want concrete answers, contact RA. I am under no obligation to research a story just because you demand immediate answers.


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