Small Tax District 5: A Primer

Reston Community CenterThere are two more days to vote in Reston Community Center’s Preference Poll, which selects representatives to RCC’s Board of Governors.

If your home is located in Small Tax District 5, then you are eligible to vote.

A common question in Reston: what exactly is Small Tax District 5 and why am I paying?

In March 1975, Small District 5 was created to pay for the construction and ongoing operation and maintenance of the Reston Community Center.

In 1977, $2.6 million in construction bonds were issued. RCC opened in 1979. Final payment was made in August 1999.

Nearly 40 years later, residents of Small Tax District 5 are still paying for RCC. The tax district map encompasses all of Reston (homes both in and out of Reston Association) and some nearby streets.

The special tax rate levied on all residential and commercial property in the tax district is 4.7 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

That means if your house is valued at $500,000, you pay about $235 annually  for the community center operations (personnel and programs) and maintenance (repair and replacement).

That is in addition to Fairfax County taxes of 1.085 per $100 of assessed home value, Reston Association assessments of $634 (2014), and cluster fees if you live in a Reston cluster.

Reston Community Center Executive Director Leila Gordon says the tax rate is actually lower than it was in previous years. The rate started out at 3 cents in 1979. It was raised (by request of the Board of Governors and approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors) in the early 1980s to 6 cents. Then it dropped to 5 cents in 2003. In 2007, it was lowered to 4.7 cents (by motion from Hunter Mill Supervisor and approved by the supervisors).

Tax districts are authorized by the Code of Virginia, Title 21. These tax districts have a wide range of powers, including the authority to levy and collect taxes; construct, maintain, operate, and acquire assets; issue bonds (subject to voter approval by referendum); and borrow money.

New tax districts can be created, such as the one formed to pay for Tysons Corner transportation infrastructure in 2013. Tax districts are created without requiring a referendum and taxes can be levied and decreased or increased without the consent of the residents.

Reston Community Center’s Board of Governors is continuing to study building a new indoor pool and recreation center. To move forward, that proposal would have to go to a voter referendum, and none is scheduled through 2014.

Some who have spoken out against the rec center — estimated to cost $35 to construct — fear it will cause Small Tax District rates to rise.

Do not keep talking about a Reston Community Center indoor pool and recreation center as though RCC is the only option for us to get a pool/rec center,” Tammi Petrine, co-chair of Reston 2020 and Reston Citizens Association board member, wrote recently in the Reston Now comments. “RCC is a separate, special entity for which we in Small Tax District 5 pay extra taxes. Fairfax County Park Authority is the entity whose job it is to build our facility.

“Yes, we deserve a pool and rec center, but funded by Fairfax County just as every other county district has and has had for years. Restonians do not have unlimited resources. We can not keep self-funding all of our amenities despite what the majority of the RCC board thinks. Reston residents are the payers and we need to make the Governors understand that we are tapped out.”

Gordon says the tax rate will not rise.

“Our board will not raise the tax rate,” she said. “We are working on achieving the rec center the community wants in a manner that includes contributions from sufficient private and public resources to spread the cost and keep our tax rate where it is. Ultimately, we feel strongly that multiple funding partners will be needed and we are committed to doing whatever it takes to get there.”

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