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New Reston Association Budget Includes $11 Assessment Increase

Reston Association’s Board of Directors approved next year’s budget, which increases the assessment fee by $11, at last night’s meeting. The Thursday meeting focused on finalizing the $17.9 million budget for next year and setting the assessment fee to the new rate of $693 — a bump from last year’s $682 fee.

Larry Butler, RA’s Acting CEO, presented his recommendations for the budget before the board took a deep dive into the budget.

The long-vacant CEO spot — one of several unfilled positions, including CFO and Planner — loomed over the board’s budget deliberations.

RA At-Large Director Ven Iyer, who unsuccessfully attempted to keep next year’s assessment fee the same as last year’s, argued that keeping costs low sets a good example for whoever fills the CEO spot. “What happens if the CEO comes in and says, ‘Actually, the costs need to go up’? What would you do if that happens?” Iyer said. “I think we need to set the tone.”

RA President Andy Sigle said that RA needs a CEO’s “fresh eyes to keep pushing for more efficiencies.”

Quite a bit of confusion around the operating reserves dominated the discussion as well. Ultimately, the association trimmed roughly $280,000 from initial expense estimates from the first draft of the budget, which allowed the association to limit the assessment increase to 1.6 percent.

“Our job is not, not to spend money,” said John Mooney, secretary of the RA, said at the meeting. “We can’t do everything everyone wants… The question is not expense, it’s value.”

In an effort to pass expenses shouldered by RA, the board also green-lighted a measure to start passing on credit card fees for purchases made through WebTrac to members beginning Jan. 1. Members who purchase pool and tennis passes or activity registrations through the website will be charged the credit card service fees.

Assessment-related credit card transaction fees will also be passed on to members starting in 2020. RA also directed the association’s staff to increase employee health insurance contributions.

The RA will mail assessment packets by the end of the first week of December to residents with information about the fees and funding. The payment will be due Jan.1, and a six-month installment plan will be available. Late fees for assessment payments kick in after March 1.

Photo via Reston Association/YouTube

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Reston Association Set to Consider Assessment Fee, Budget Tomorrow

Reston Association is set this week to hold a vote and the second public hearing on next year’s budget.

This upcoming meeting will focus on approving the second year of the 2018-2019 budget at the public meeting tomorrow (Thursday) at 6:30 p.m. at RA’s headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive) after the first year of the budget was approved last year.

Larry Butler, RA’s acting CEO, presented his recommendations for the budget at a public hearing last Thursday (Nov. 8). RA board and staff created three drafts of the budget, using 2018 as a baseline.

During the budget process, the RA board directed the association’s staff to increase employee health insurance contributions and to reduce expenses by passing credit card convenience fees along to the cardholder. The association trimmed roughly $300,000 from the initial budget estimates from an earlier draft, according to a Nov. 1 press release.

“This year’s budget was shaped primarily through a wide range of cuts in operating expenses,” the press release said.

If approved, the proposed budget would increase members’ assessment fee by $11, setting the rate at $693. The first draft would have set the annual fee, which helps the association maintain pathways, facilities and recreational areas, at just over $700. Last year’s totaled $682.

The board is also requesting $40,000 from cash reserves to reinstate staff training and $17,545 for staff recruitment and “market rate adjustments for difficult to fill positions,” according to meeting materials to be presented to the board.

After the new assessment is set by the board, RA will mail assessment packets to residents with information about the fees and funding. The payment will be due Jan. 1.

The draft agenda for the meeting is available online.

Photo via Reston Association/Reston Today

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Wexton, Democratic incumbents celebrate Election Day victories — Local voters also turned out in numbers the surpassed recent midterm elections. The Fairfax County Office of Elections estimated a 69.7 percent turnout for the general election, up from 45.7 percent in 2014. [Fairfax County Times]

DMV2Go in RTC today — The wireless office on wheels will offer DMV services today from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the pavilion. Services include driver’s license and ID card applications and renewals, driving records, decals and more. [Reston Town Center]

Reston Association budget hearing, assessment increase proposal tomorrow — RA will hear comments from members about its plans to increase assessments by $11 at a hearing tomorrow (Thursday). [Reston Association]

Robert Sapolsky to speak at CenterStage tonight — Sapolsky, a MacArthur “Genius” Fellow and a professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University, will speak tonight. His lectures touch on topics like stress, baboons, the biology of individuality, memory aggression and schizophrenia. Tickets are sold out but the box office will maintain a waitlist today for any returned tickets. [Reston Community Center]

Photo by John Pinkman

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Reston Association to Hold Public Hearing on Assessment Increase, Budget

As deliberations on next year’s budget continue, Reston Association is holding a public hearing to get feedback from members next week.

The hearing is set for Nov. 8 (Thursday) at 6:30 p.m. at RA’s headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). The draft budget is available online and includes a possible $28 increase in assessments.

RA’s Board of Directors is also contemplating a number of policy directives, including passing on credit card fees for processing members’ and nonmembers’ payments from the organization to individuals. Other issues before the board include expanded health benefits for employees, overall compensation packages and merit-based salary increases.

The first year of the 2018-2019 budget was approved last year. The second year will be approved by the board in mid-November.

Photo via Reston Association/YouTube

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RA’s Latest 2018 Assessment Proposal: $681

In its most recent public hearing on the proposed budget for 2018, held on Monday evening (video here), members of the Reston Association Board of Directors proposed yet another new assessment rate of $681 for residents.

The rate would equal a decrease of $39 from the 2017 initial proposed rate of $720, which was later reduced to $692 only through the spending of around $550,000 in reserve cash.

Previously, in the first draft of the budget, the assessment rate had been proposed at $678.

On Monday evening, board treasurer and at-large director Sridhar Ganesan said a few changes had brought it back up roughly $3 to $681. Those changes included the decision to pay off the loan on the Lake House renovations using reserve cash, which shaved $8.66 off assessment rates, and changes to the RA pool schedules he said they made in response to resident feedback, which added another $2.88 back on to the rate.

“There was a lot of public request from a pool schedule request. We changed that – we brought a lot of it back to around what the 2016 levels were,” Ganesan explained.

Ganesan said other cost-saving measures had initially allowed the directors to get assessments all the way down to $670, but after the first few budget work sessions and last week’s first public hearing, more changes were made. Those included adding staff coverage for more litter clean-up and the handling of Design Review Board covenants requests, as well as the adding of an additional Parks and Recreation staff member. In addition, Ganesan said healthcare costs for some employees went up slightly with the recent annual enrollment period.

“So, with some changes up and some changes down, we ended up at $681,” he finished.

Only one resident showed up for the public hearing portion of the evening. The woman asked for more maintenance of tennis courts due to high usage, including repaving and cleaning of mold and slime from the courts, which she said are a slipping hazard. Additional lighting was also requested, particularly at courts in the south part of Reston.

Furthermore, the woman asked for a feasibility study for the addition of indoor tennis options.

“It’s something our tennis community has been wanting for a long time,” she said, pointing out that it would allow for year-round lessons and exercise opportunities for residents.

Following the public comments, the meeting was adjourned.

The final vote on the 2018 budget and assessment rate is scheduled to take place at the board’s regular meeting on Nov. 16.

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