Like the cost of almost everything these days, the cost of living in Reston is about to go up.
The Reston Association Board of Directors on Thursday voted to set annual assessments at $565 per residence in 2012, a jump of almost 5 percent from dues of $540 this year. In total, assessments have risen more than 26 percent since 2007.
The board also approved the budget for 2012 and 2013:2012 2013 Revenues $14,395,026 $14,951,146 Operating Expenses $12,710,362 $13,193,395 Capital Expenditures $1,663,650 $1,623,250
To see a preliminary itemized (some numbers are subject to change) budget, click the PDF attached to this story.
Even with assessments at $565, RA is projecting a $249,554 deficit in the operating fund for 2012.
The vote came after months of budget talks and sometimes impassioned arguments by board of directors members Thursday.
At-large director Andy Sigle argued at the meeting for a $555 assessment.
The RA fiscal committee recommends $2.5 million in the reserve and replacement fund for this budget cycle, Sigle says. With $3.6 million currently in the in the R&R fund, this gives an approximate $1 million overage, though nearly half of that is already allocated for future projects such as baseball field improvements.
Sigle's suggestion was to use some of the overage to defray an assessment increase. Sigle said that moving $200,000 of it would allow an assessment level of $555 (a 2.8% increase) without negative effect to the projected operating budget deficit, while covering exactly the same improvements and services proposed with the $565 level assessment.
Vice president Paul Thomas was also for keeping assessments on the lower end. He said he believes that the coming influx of new housing - bringing a greater number of residential assessments as well as potential recreational proffers - will add to the coffers quickly.
"Anything we can do to hold the line on assessments now is good," he said. "One of the things that makes me comfortable with this isMoving forward into later years, I am saying the number of members is going to be increasing."
Others on the board said it was going to be a "pay now or pay later" situation.
Tall Oaks/Lake Anne Director Ken Knueven gave the board a sobering look at what will happen if assessments were to create a shortage. He pointed out the number of improvement projects that need to be done.
"As painful as it is, knowing we would be raising assessments, but if you knew where the money was going and was going back into infrastructure, that it was going back to thing the way we use to enjoy Reston, I suspect you would say 'if we have to do it we have to do it,' " he said.
"If we don't, things are going to look abysmal," he added. "Your homeowner values are going to go down."
Hunters Woods/Dogwood Director Cheryl Beamer agreed. The capital expenditures are budgeted for $1,663,650 in 2012, and the assessments need to pay for a lot of improvements.
"If the money is not there, we may get into a situation where a pool has to go without a jacuzzi if it is not in the budget," she said. "That is not how Reston is run. Since I have been on the board, there has not been a vision of anything new in Reston. We are barely taking care of what we have now. Ten dollars now could save us from raising fees $40 a couple of years from now - or closing a pool because we couldn't possibly raise fees enough to cover the cost."
Speaking of new facilities,- is not on the 2012 budget meaning the issue is likely postponed for now.
RA CEO Milton Matthews said the board could decide to move forward with the referendum, but it would not be until at least mid-2012. That would mean a referendum might not take place until 2013 and a community vote sometime after that.
Matthews also says the jumps in assessments reflect the rising cost of many things, among them: An aging infrastructure and a bump in the rent for the new facility RA moved into in 2010. As part of the lease structure, RA's rent in the new place is going up $200,000 in 2012.
RA ASSESSMENTS SINCE 2000
Year Amount % +/-
2001 $375.00 1.35%
2002 $387.00 3.20%
2003 $399.00 3.10%
2004 $415.00 4.01%
2005 $425.00 2.41%
2006 $437.00 2.82%
2007 $437.00 0.00%
2008 $475.00 8.70%
2009 $491.00 3.37%
2010 $515.00 4.89%
2011 $540.00 4.85%
2012 $565.00 4.50%
(Source: Reston Association)
(Editor's Note: This story was edited to reflect more details on Sigle's proposal)