Reston, VA

Reston Association’s Board of Directors has shaved $10 off the expected member dues increase for next year. In the latest draft proposal, the assessment would by 3.6 percent from $693 to $718.

This year, RA is considering increasing staff salaries across the board in order to ensure employees receive competitive, market-rate benefits and compensation packages, according to RA leadership.

RA CEO Hank Lynch said his staff “literally went line by line by line” through the organization’s revenues and expenses to reach the new proposed member assessment amount. The previous draft budget proposed a five percent increase.

Lynch said the latest draft proposal represents hovers around a four percent increase in the average annual assessment increases in the last ten budgets.

Member assessments have increased by 34 percent between 2010 and 2018.

A handful of RA members who testified at last night’s public meeting raised concerns about RA’s latest budget draft.

Some said they were worried RA’s financial controls were slipping — once again referencing the organization’s $2.6 million purchase of The Lake House at double its assessed value in 2015.

“There are signs that controls are slipping again,” said John Lovaas, an RA member. Lovaas also said he was troubled by the “shaky assumption” that RA’s staff are due to inadequate compensation.

Critical financial oversight should be conducted by RA’s fiscal committee, others said.

“I’m concerned that the fiscal committee is not being consulted and shown everything,”  said Tammi Petrine.

Mike Leone, RA’s spokesman, told Reston Now that the change in the proposed assessment was the result of direction and input from RA’s board and the committee.

In comments to the board, RA’s fiscal committee raised concerns about the overall budget.

“Having a one-year change in overall spending of about $3.3 million seems very aggressive and may be too hard to manage successfully,” according to documents submitted by the committee.

Here’s more from the committee:

It seems like we are trying to do everything in a very short amount of time. While the operating expense line says we’re growing $1.2M, it is net of reducing Facility Rent and eliminating Credit Card Fees (a total of about $600K). In other words, it does not count an extra $600K that we gained from the Facility Rent and adjustment to credit card fees. Nor does it count the one-time studies done in 2019 (e.g., the Branding Study, and the Compensation Study) that will not be needed in 2020. So the actual annual spending increase proposed is more like $2M. The same situation is on the Capital side. The reserve study calls for 2020 spending to be $2,954K and the budget is asking for $4,453K. Understanding that RA has a continual backlog and that it is being addressed is laudable, however, with no increase in staff on the capital side, and a mammoth increase in their budget, it is difficult to predict whether the full amount requested will be spent in 2020.

RA Board President Cathy Baum said she appreciated members for testifying at the hearing.

“Listening to comments can be challenging for both the board and staff, but it’s really nice to see members be engaged,” Baum said.

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