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RA Proposes Lower Assessments For Lowest-Valued Properties

by Karen Goff — November 3, 2014 at 2:00 pm 21 Comments

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.”

  • No

    Since everyone gets equal use from the common areas, everyone should pay the same for them.

    • Adrian Havill

      Amen. And the number of homes including condos in Reston that would sell for under $130,000 can be counted on one hand even though one of the fingers is amputated.

  • Gavin

    How about charging more than $5 for a pool pass? That’s a massive expense that could easily be absorbed by those who use it most.

    • .

      Also, charge $100 a year to use the bocce court.

      • Gavin

        Current Tennis and Pool passes are $25/year. Making them $100 and rolling the bocce court in to the tennis/pool pass is a good idea.

  • Laura Calacci

    The RA can not stop thinking about how to suck more money out of us. Take from the rich and give to the poor. Its a ridiculous proposal and everyone in Reston should rise up and fight the RA . If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen. If they own a property in Reston they need to pay. Just like the double taxation the rest of us suffer, those getting Fairfax County Tax Relief are relieved again on the RA fees. They probably would love to base the fees on the value. Then they could inspect every property for improper lights or other such “violations’. Or would they use the Fairfax County assessed value? These can vary wildly . I can’t even say leave well enough alone in this case. With RA, its just “don’t make things worse”. They just love to bite off more than they can chew. And yet they can’t seem to keep our neighborhoods clean. Its shameful.

    • Rational Reston

      I get your point, but I think RA takes from the middle and gives to special interests. I see no benefits given to the poor.

      • Terry Maynard

        Actually, the proposal might cost the poor MORE depending where they live. The proposal cuts on the discount to low-income family offered by the County in favor of its prorated valuation approach.

  • MJay

    It seems like our homeowners association is trying to act like a city government. If it’s going to be this way moving forward, why not just incorporate Reston (to include RTC which does not fall under RA) or cede responsibility to the county? The homeowners association model has outlived its usefulness.

    • Terry Maynard

      RCA tried than unsuccessfully nearly a decade ago despite more than 3,000 Restonian signatures on a petition to make Reston a “Town” with its own government (like Herndon) under Virginia law.

      Our County and state legislators were unwilling to even consider it.

      • MJay

        Perhaps we can organize a RestonFirst slate of candidates for Fairfax County supervisor and delegate, as well as RA candidates, with a main, unified platform position of pursuing town status for Reston. If a large percentage of Reston residents wants to change from the status quo ie RA and county double-taxation to a town, then it seems that Hudgins, Ken Plum, and RA board members who are obstructing this mandate should be voted out in favor of credible representatives who will do what’s best for Reston.

        • John Kirksman

          I think that this would be the only way forward, if we are truly serious about fixing reston

      • Bah

        3,000 signatures in a town of over 60,000 is pathetic. It was not the legislators who were unwilling to consider it, it was the residents.

    • Oy

      Anyone who thinks town status would stop “them” from milking us is deluded.

      A town would have more power and incentive to tax its residents than a homeowner’s association.

      • MJay

        I share your cynicism, but respectfully disagree on some points. The town government would seem to have more checks and balances than our wayward homeowners association. Yes, we have our bylaws, but what’s the point if RA board members don’t follow the rules. The silly bocce issue is an example… I could care less about this issue one way or another. But it seems evident that RA violated the rules in approving the measure. If a real government violated the rule, we would have a much more vast array of recourse in dealing with the government than we do with a pithy homeowners association board. A town also gives us the opportunity to draft a town charter that, in line with state regulations and constitution, can assist in reigning in on the taxes, etc. But as it stands right now, we are being double taxed.

        • Oya

          Geez dude we see “real governments” violating the law every day at the local, state, and Federal level, and somehow you think a Reston town government would be different and better? Get real.

          A town also gives us the opportunity to draft a town charter that, in
          line with state regulations and constitution, can assist in reigning in
          on the taxes, etc.

          We can change the RA laws and regulations any time we want. We can even put in more “checks and balances” if we want. But apparently the residents of Reston don’t want to. What they want is a tax-and-spend extravaganza. Which would be even worse if we were a town!

  • Eddie from North Point

    This is a ridiculous last minute proposal. Everyone should pay the same. The CEO should be shown the door, and the directors in support of this replaced. I’m already subsidizing many in Reston for facilities I don’t use, but that’s what I bought into, and what makes a community. This proposal though sets the stage for a whole different ball game, and needs much more public input.

  • east297

    Good old RA…can’t wait to inflict yet another scam on Reston Homeowners. They should be thinking about ways to reduce expenditures (how about less staff). RA already salivating about collecting more dues from new apartment building owners. Disgusting!!! Hope bocce is out of the picture for GOOD.

  • Cluster Tycoon

    11457 WASHINGTON PLAZA, Reston, VA 20190 listed for $660000 (1511 sq ft). Hmm, no wonder RA is feeling lofty about assessments.

  • Rational Reston

    This is the result of the sham of a vote for the updated governance rules when they extended the date to eek in just enough votes to make it a quorum. Jimmy Carter and UN observers should oversee the RA voting processes.

  • Constance (Connie) Hartke

    About a dozen residents attended the RA Board Planning meeting last night. Several commented constructively on this topic. CEO Cate Fulkerson and most board members present appreciated our concerns and realized that the wording needs revising. Cate said there has always been a provision for the lower property value homes but never a formula to apply to it. They are attempting to give that portion more structure. We’ll look forward to reviewing the revised language.

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