.

RA Assessments to Rise to $590 in 2013

Reston Association Board votes for lowest option but faces unknown expenses.

The Reston Association Board of Directors voted on Thursday to a $25 rise from 2012's $565 payment.

The amount — the same as the number approved in the biennial budget in 2011 — is the lowest of the three options the board discussed. The board could have voted on an assessment of $595 or $600.

Additionally, the board voted to set assessments at $580 for federally/state subsidized units and $260 for households that get Fairfax County tax relief.

RA CEO Milton Matthews, who is not a voting member of the board, advocated to set the amount at $595.

"We are going to be stretched at $590," he said prior to the vote, pointing out an expected $100,000 deficit from this year's expenses. "It is going to be tough. There is not a lot of leeway in our budget. We have expenses in a community that is changing and growing. We are starting to focus on our infrastructure. Our amenities are part of the quality of life in this community."

Matthews also pointed out nearly $250,000 in unplanned expenses expected in 2013. Among them:

* $15,000 in dollars lost from more property owners qualifying for Fairfax County Tax Relief (406 households in 2012)

* $48,000 in lost assessments from the demolition of 82 units at Parc Reston; $25,000 in additional legal fees for special counsel for RA's role in the rezoning issue for Reston National Golf Course

* $50,000 for an expected contribution to South Lakes High School for a synthetic turf athletic field (down from a projected $100,000 earlier this year)

* An expected $20,000 contribution to a community-wide effort to produce a documentary about Reston for its 50th anniversary in 2014

* The hiring of a part-time community planner position ($40,000); and an additional $50,000 for "additional legal expenses for billing and collection and general services."

Hunters Woods/Dogwood director Cheryl Beamer suggested raising assessments as high as $600. She reasoned that with additional money, Reston Association could do the things it needs to do externally (funding special projects) and internally (giving staff meaningful raises) without constant self scrutiny.

"We have done too little to fund what we need to do as an organization," she said. 

South Lakes Director Richard Chew and Apartment Owners' Director Amanda Andere both said that an important part of the budgeting process should be to take a hard look at priorities.

"We have some idea what we need," said Chew. "We have aging assets. We don't know if Reston National will be resolved in January or will take up three years of litigation. "

Only one citizen used the public comment section to speak to the board. The resident of Sagewood Lane encouraged the board to find creative solutions other than consistently raising assessments.

"Eighty-two units are gone at Parc Reston," she said. "We are going to see more and more of this kind of thing. Isn't there some sort of tax the developers can pay? They are making big bucks. Those of us who are retired are not making big bucks."

 

RA ASSESSMENTS SINCE 2000

Year    Amount    % +/-    
2000    $370.00        
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%

2013     $590.00   4.50% 

(Source: Reston Association)

 

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novatom November 30, 2012 at 02:50 PM
* An expected $20,000 contribution to a community-wide effort to produce a documentary about Reston for its 50th anniversary in 2014 ??? You've gotta be kidding me. Why is this necessary? I know it's just a drop in the bucket but kill it.
Skip Endale November 30, 2012 at 03:59 PM
I think you should be in the documentary just to show the wide spectrum of opinions here in Reston and how, generally speaking, we can all share the same space.
Skip Endale November 30, 2012 at 04:09 PM
the increases seem like a lot of money because they hit people in the pocket book. but taking into account the performance of the S&P, the consumer price index and possibly other data points and you would think the assessments are not out of touch with reality. what is out of touch with reality are gas prices. I think the RA needs to do a better job at explaining what are there largest expenditures and try to cut costs there. it could very well be that gas prices are one of them. perhaps its time to switch to e85, a new fleet of vehicles, or just drive less.expecting a winter with lots of snow we will see costs soaring in that department.
Chipperson November 30, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Skip you are out of touch
Greg O November 30, 2012 at 05:40 PM
* $50,000 for an expected contribution to South Lakes High School for a synthetic turf athletic field (down from a projected $100,000 earlier this year) Seriously?? Half of the student population in Reston doesn't even feed into SLHS. If even necessary, this should get paid for by our county taxes through the Board of Ed, not the Reston assessment.
Karen Goff November 30, 2012 at 06:17 PM
Actually, about 70 percent of the students in Reston attend SLHS. The number that go to Herndon High is much smaller - two elementary school feeders as opposed to five (one of them very large - Hunters Woods).
Stella McEnearny November 30, 2012 at 06:37 PM
What colossal waste! It's infuriating that our dues are squandered on such ridiculous frills.
Robert Beale November 30, 2012 at 07:00 PM
What will be assessment impact from the subway station area development and the planned high-density redevelopment of the Spectrum centers and the nearby contiguous areas near Reston Town Center be on Reston Association annual dues over the near and immediate terms? How high can residential assessments go over the next five-ten years? With all the new development in our non-incorporated Reston, how do these expenses/revenues impact Reston's finances? I for one do not understand the assessment (tax) implications of commercial and retail properties vs. homes in Reston. Can someone clarify this?
Mike Collins November 30, 2012 at 08:16 PM
Robert - Commercial properties don't pay assessments to RA. For new residential projects, the answer is very complicated and depends in part on the precise location. Town Center is not part of RA and the Town Center zone reaches much further north than most people realize - all the way to Baron Cameron and even a little beyond. So, that new apartment building in Town Center and any redevelopment in Spectrum? Not RA. The new towers going up across the street from Spectrum at Parc Reston? In RA. Redevelopment of Fairways or Reston Heights? In RA. The new projects around the metro station are TBD pending negotiations because they are not in RA either. In the next 5 years, I think we'll see at least 1200-2000 new units definitely in RA and around 800 that could be if the developer chooses to join. 2000 new units would be well over a million dollar plus to the budget. It's very hard say how a new project impacts RA's costs, but we do have some strategies for recovering those costs even from projects that don't join RA as dues-paying members (proffers, county-mandated fees, partnerships, etc..) The assessment rate is capped, but the cap rate automatically increases each year by 4.5%. The max. assessment for 2013 is $627 - $37 higher than the actual amount for 2013. For 2018, the cap would be $781. Hope this helps clarify. Mike Collins North Point Representative Reston Association Board of Directors mike4ra@gmail.com
DGeorge November 30, 2012 at 08:37 PM
I would like to know how much that slick magazine RA publishes costs. And the salaries of the people that work on it. In a time when newspapers and magazines are going electronic why do we spend all this money?
Mike Collins November 30, 2012 at 08:52 PM
After accounting for ad revenue and postage to 21,000 homes, the magazine costs $100,000 total per year - less than $5 per household. The staff does other things too so we don't track that cost. I don't know if we track the number of people who sign up for fee-based programs because they read about them in the magazine. I would guess that alone brings in several thousand dollars. The magazine is available electronically and staff is looking into creating an option for people to decline the mailed hard copy and get it online.
frugal November 30, 2012 at 09:58 PM
The article noted an expected $100,000 deficit from this year's expenses. There seems to be $110,000 in unplanned expenses. IT would seem these need to be recovered. * $50,000 for an expected contribution to South Lakes High School for a synthetic turf athletic field (down from a projected $100,000 earlier this year) * An expected $20,000 contribution to a community-wide effort to produce a documentary about Reston for its 50th anniversary in 2014 * The hiring of a part-time community planner position ($40,000);
Laura Macias December 01, 2012 at 02:28 AM
If we are going to pay almost $600 for RA assessments, could we at least get some more public lighting? It would be nice to drive around at night WITHOUT having to turn on our high beams...
Jim H December 01, 2012 at 03:45 AM
RA cannot continue to expect an automatic 4 to 5 % increase year after year. That's absurd. Does anyone go to their employer at the end of each year and say, "hey boss I need a 4.5% pay increase next year or I can't do my job"...I don't think so. I, as well as many friends and neighbors have worked for minimal pay increases in both the private and public sector for years. RA dues have increased 35% since 2007. Nearly $800 in 2018...wow!
John Farrell December 01, 2012 at 03:07 PM
It is illegal for RA to spend any money on land it does not own. Any members of the Board who allow that check to be written will be personally liable for defalcation and members of RA can individually sue those Board members to recover those funds.
John Farrell December 01, 2012 at 03:11 PM
And what recreational proffers did you get from those projects for RA to help build the indoor tennis courts and indoor 50m pool that some RA members want so intently? Nothing
John Farrell December 01, 2012 at 03:14 PM
The County owns the roads. It's up to them to light the roads. If Reston was a city, we could do it ourselves.
Skip Endale December 01, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Thanks for the comment, that confirms I am at least 50% correct. If you check around the average cost of a health club monthly fees, swim and tennis are around $150 per month. So say over a period of 6 months you would be paying $900; even more if you have a family. Agree, not everyone swims and not everyone plays tennis, but there are other options - walking the trails, going to the community centre, and providing options for youth to participate in community events. That is a small price to pay and its worth every cent. Not increasing the fees could translate into programs being cut, people fired, or wage reductions. While the rest of the area lives high off the hog on government jobs and contracts why would RA have to trim their workforce and limit their pay? And how about all othe other benefits? The five percent increase is tough on some citizens but most others can choose to skip Starbucks for a month or cook at home instead of going to Clydes. Either way I'll buy you a beer at the bar if that calms you down.
Skip Endale December 01, 2012 at 03:24 PM
I would rather they keep the grass on the football fields to keep the planet cool. Perhaps spend the $50,000 on a green house and show the kids how to plant and grow their own food. Either way, the fifty thou is well spent if it keeps the kids out of trouble.
Mike Collins December 01, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Jim - The current governing documents, as approved by voters in 2006, allow for automatic increases of the greater of 4.5% or the Employers Cost Index from a base rate of $461. So the current maximum assessment is $627, but we set it at $590 based on actual costs, not some automatic formula. Salary increases are merit-based only and are capped at 2% and HR is only about half the overall budget. People are not pushing the rates higher, it's the cost of running programs and maintaining aging infrastructure and equipment. The entire budget is online at www.reston.org. If anyone has suggestions about what to cut, please let us know.

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