The Reston Association (RA) still has decisions to make on its 2021 budget, including any potential change to the current $708 member assessment rate.
Lynch did stipulate that the assessment is one of the key points the Board of Directors must still decide on. He said that the fiscal committee for RA has recommended an increase to the assessment of up to $20 for the 2021 budget.
Lynch stated that the fiscal committee suggested there is the potential of an increase of up to $100 for the assessment in 2022. But he said he does not believe there will be that significant of an increase for the 2022 assessment rate.
Robert Petrine, treasurer for the board, clarified the discussion on the potential 2022 assessment rate increase of up to $100.
“There are two major components that are not in the current 2021 budget, which if we look forward is number one is if you implement the salary plan, that’s going to have a material impact,” he said.
“And number two; we’re going to be fully paying on the (headquarters) lease. When you put those in and you also factor in the amount of capital projects that are already in the budget and projected for 2022, in order to have everything balanced, you’re looking at a substantially higher assessment.”
Lynch also discussed the decision point for the board of an operational change with the Central Services Facility (CSF) that mows the Reston roadways and median strips.
CSF is paid $45,000 in an annual contract through the Virginia Department of Transportation to mow Reston’s roadways and median strips three times. However, CSF mows those areas 24 times during the year to maintain Reston’s appearance. The additional mowing costs RA an additional $140,000 above the contract.
Beyond the roadways, CSF also brings in a turf maintenance company to mow many of the ball fields, parks and open spaces. This additional maintenance costs the association over $200,000 annually.
Lynch’s proposal for the board’s consideration includes the following measures to reduce CSF’s 2021 operating costs by $200,000 to $210,000:
- Reduce the number of VDOT highway mows from 24 down to eight.
- Eliminate contracted mowing services used for RA’s ball fields, parks and open spaces.
- Utilizing current full-time CSF staff and five seasonal staff to conduct all RA mowing.
During discussions with RA members following Lynch’s presentation and the boards’ comments, a primary focus fell on RA’s communications budget and, in part, the participation of members in RA’s planning.
While Petrine complimented the board’s participation and the members that joined the discussion, he admonished “the general membership for lack of concern and participation.”
Board member Selvaraj-D’Souza stated that this is where Lynch’s “team is failing” in its communication efforts.
The operating expenses for communications for the 2020 budget was $968,114. In Lynch’s proposal, those expenses increased to $979,373 for 2021.
“When we’re spending a million dollars on communications, we need to be proactive and figure out a way to get our membership to show up,” she said.
“And that’s where we need to look at out of the box ideas, how are we reaching out to them, is our messaging actually being effective. And there needs to be some absolute accountability with that.”
Board member Ven Iyer echoed the suggestions of Selvaraj-D’Souza. Iyer suggested efforts be turned toward “grassroots level participation in order to shape the direction where this organization is headed.”
Lynch defended the communications department’s efforts, stating that he believes “there’s a complete misunderstanding of what communications does.”
He added that with roughly 60,000 members, an “enormous amount of work” is required to serve all the needs and wants of the members.
Board member Mike Collins followed the discussion by stating that RA has had difficulty in member participation for at least the 10 years he’s been in Reston. He also did not recommend that members should assume something is wrong with the efforts of the communications department.
However, Collins did discuss his belief that board members take a look at digging more into those details of the budget next year.
Board president Julie Bitzer concluded the discussion by agreeing with the notion that the board needs more information on the communications to reach a more appropriate “comfort level.” She suggested reviewing more details on the communications budget during the board’s next meeting.
The board will next meet virtually on Nov. 19 via Zoom.