RA Proposes Lower Assessments For Lowest-Valued Properties

Reston Association 50The Reston Association Board of Directors is considering making changes to annual assessments that could affect some of Reston’s lowest-valued properties and their owners.

Currently, all Reston Association members are set to pay a 2015 assessment of $642, a rise from this year’s assessment of $634. All members pay the same amount regardless of the value of their property.

The board will discuss at its board planning meeting on Monday, Nov. 3 a proposal by RA CEO Cate Fulkerson to reduce the assessment for properties valued at under $128,000 to 0.5 percent of assessed value.

That valuation would likely only affect a small number of properties in Reston, where the average home is valued at $439,000, according to Zillow.

Additionally, owners who qualify for Fairfax County Tax Relief, currently given a reduced assessment ($624), would be given a much deeper discount under the proposal ($321).

Reston Association members are bound by the deed to pay the annual assessments, which go towards maintaining and operating common areas, such as RA’s paths, pools and tennis courts.

The board conducts a biennial budget review, where it examines expenses and sets the assessment amount for the next two years.

The RA expects to collect more than $13 million in assessments in 2015. Total estimated revenue for the year comes in at more than $16 million, according to RA, with $5.4 million spent on management and headquarters costs; $2.7 million spent on recreation services; and $2.1 million spent on park maintenance.

While the increase from 2014 to 2015 is only $8, the rate rose 7.45 percent from 2013 to 214, and has risen by $127 annually in the last five years.

Also, the suggestion to pro-rate assessments according to property values is a slippery slope, according to Reston-watchers Reston 2020.  Is RA heading toward a whole new structure?

“Neat!  We introduced the concept of a prorated assessment fee,” Reston 2020 wrote on its blog last week. “Next year (or the year after), the RA Board can move (again on short notice with no public input) to apply that 0.5% rate to all Reston properties (except those already exempted by this amendment).  So, if you live in an average $600,000 home in Reston (which is just about the average in Reston home valuations), you could well be paying a $3,000 annual RA assessment fee.”

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