Residents of the Hunter Mill District will have a chance tomorrow to weigh in on the fiscal year 2019 budget.
Fairfax County Executive Bryan Hill proposed the $4.29 billion general fund budget in February. The proposal would raise the residential property tax rate from $1.13 to $1.155 per $100 of assessed value.
Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins will hold a town hall on the proposal tomorrow at South Lakes High School from 7-9 p.m.
During the public meeting, Hill will discuss his proposal for the upcoming fiscal year, as well as the county’s financial forecast. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions following county presentations.
Photo via handout
Bundles of joy at Frying Pan Farm Park — You now have two more reasons to visit the park. Elle delivered two lambs earlier this week. [Fairfax County Parks]
Coming up: town hall on the budget — County Executive Bryan Hill will discuss his budget proposal for the next fiscal year at South Lakes High School on March 8 from 7-9 p.m. [Inside NOVA]
Reston-based Appian expands –– The software company is racking up more revenue and dropping some hints about its headquarters. [Washington Business Journal]
Members Needed for Hunter Mill District Citizen Budget Advisory Committee – Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins is seeking members for the committee which meets from January through March to offer recommendations to the supervisor about the budget. Hudgins will appoint several members. To express interest, send a resume to [email protected] [Fairfax County Government]
Ellucian Picks New CEO — The Reston-based company, which provides software and services for higher education management, selected Laura Ipsen as the CEO. Ipsen previously worked as a general manager and senior president for Oracle Corp.’s cloud marketing division. [Washington Business Journal]
Community Holiday Performances at Fountain Square Tonight — Musical performances continue today at Fountain Square. Sunrise Valley Elementary School’s chorus will perform carols today from 6:30 – 7: p.m. Fountain Square is a 760,000 square foot mixed used project located in Reston Town Center. [Reston Town Center]
RA Board of Directors To Set Next Year’s Budget Tonight — Reston Association’s board of directors will meet at 6:30 p.m. at RA headquarters to discuss a broad swath of motions, including capital and operating budgets for next year. The meeting can be viewed live here. [Reston Assocation]
Purchase Poinsettias for South Lakes High School Seniors Graduation Party — Decorate your home and office this holiday season with poinsettias. SLHS is raising money to finance an all-night seniors graduation party. Orders must be received by Nov. 21 and will be ready for pick-up from SLHS on Dec. 1. Medium bundles are $15, large bundles are $25 and a hanging basket is $30. [SLHS]
Cleveland Browns Sign Reston Native Deon King to Active Roster — The 6-0, 220 pound second-year player out of Norfolk State was originally signed by Dallas as an undrafted free agent. He appeared in four games for the browns this season while spending five weeks in the practice squad. [247 Sports]
Drones on Parkland: What Do You Think? — The Fairfax County Park Authority is seeking public input on the possibility of expanding the use of drones on county parkland. During the first half of the year, the authority launched an internal study on the topic. Currently, drone pilots can take off and land at Poplar Ford Park only. The authority is considering expanding to other parks. The meeting will take place on Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. at Oak View Elementary School. [FCPA]
Reston Association to Set Budget for Next Year — On Thursday, RA’s board of directors will set the annual membership assessment rate and approve a new budget. The meeting will air live on YouTube at 6:30 p.m. [Reston Association]
South Lakes High School to Hold Dinner for Veterans — The school’s JROTC program is hosting an appreciation for 400 honorees on Dec. 9 from 6 – 9 p.m at 11400 South Lakes Drive. The dinner will include cadet demonstrations and music by the school orchestra. [South Lakes High School]
Reston Association Club Features Weekly Themes for Children — This week’s Reston Today video looks at RA’s Fit Kids Enrichment Club, which allows children to explore their talents and abilities. [Reston Today]
South Lakes’ Seahawks Advance to Second Round of Class 6 Playoffs — On Friday, the high school’s varsity football team advanced to the second round of playoffs with a decisive 49-14 win. [Seahawks Athletics]
Herndon High School Hosts Holiday Vendor Sale — On Saturday, the school will host a sale that will include cake, cotton candy, crafts, face paint and more. The event is at the high school’s cafeteria (700 Bennett St.) from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. [Herndon High School]
During its meeting Thursday, the Reston Association Board of Directors will consider what they heard during Monday’s county meeting on a proposed zoning ordinance amendment for Reston’s Planned Residential Community (PRC) District and discuss its options.
According to the agenda for Thursday’s meeting, the Board will hear a presentation from land-use attorney John McBride and Larry Butler, RA’s senior director of parks, recreation and community resources. The Board will be asked to consider the following motion:
Move to direct RA staff, in coordination with Land Use Counsel, to work with Fairfax County staff, including testifying at Fairfax County’s public hearings, to amend the proposed Comprehensive Plan Guidelines for Building Repurposing to only allow for the conversion of office to residential uses in buildings located within one half mile of the Reston Metro Stations.
The plan from the county’s Department of Planning and Zoning would bump the overall limit of people per acre from 13 to as much as 16. The current density rests at 11.9 people per acre. Changes would not apply to Transit Station Areas (TSA), which are located along the central east-wise spine of Reston.
The zoning change could also open up Reston’s village centers to possible major residential development. The proposal allows the Board of Supervisors to approve developments above 50 residential units per acre within the district’s TSAs — so long as the projects comply with the area’s master plan that guides development.
The planned discussion follows a spirited public meeting Monday where hundreds of residents voiced strong opposition to the proposal.
In addition, the Board will discuss several budget items during the meeting.
Directors will consider approving nearly $295,000 in improvements to North Hills Tennis Court (1325 North Village Road). Changes include resurfacing clay courts, adding bathroom access and replacing lighting, fencing and a water fountain. Residents voiced support for the upgrades at a community input session in mid-October. The Board says putting the projects back into the budget will not impact the 2018 Repair & Replacement Reserve Fund (RRRF) appropriation or the annual assessment rate.
The Board will consider a move to add $104,000 to remove trees from Butler Pond. The project is necessary in order to comply with a state law that prohibits woody vegetation on dams to prevent dam failure, according to the board’s agenda packet. The project would increase the annual assessment for next year by 49 cents.
Additionally, the Board will vote on a move to fund $60,000 for a business process audit, which would increase the annual assessment rate by $2.85.
The Board will also hold a public hearing on the budget during the meeting.
At its Thursday meeing, the Board will also consider the appointments of members to the Hook Road Working Group. The Hook Road Recreation Area is slated for comprehensive upgrades as part of a pilot project that aims to improve facilities at once instead of completing upgrades over time and as needed. The working group is tasked with making a proposal to the Board on the project’s scope by early next year.
A meeting on the project is planned for Thursday, Nov. 2, at The Lake House (11450 Baron Cameron Ave.). Two other meetings took place this month.
The names of individuals under consideration have not been made available.
Other issues on the agenda for the Thursday’s meeting include:
- The appointment of Charlie Hoffman to the Design Review Board as a lay member, to fill a vacant seat through March 2019. Hoffman also serves on the covenants committee.
- The appointment of Mike Martin to the elections committee through October 2020.
The board will meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at RA headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). The meeting will also be streamed on Reston Association’s YouTube channel.
Expenses for work on the RA pool facilities included in the proposed 2018-2019 Capital Projects List total: $362,378 for swimming pools and $287,639 pool buildings in 2018; and $972,209 for swimming pools and $158,256 for pool buildings in 2019.
All 15 RA pool facilities have projects listed in the proposed list. By far the most expensive is work on the Lake Thoreau pool, totaling just over $1 million.
The $1.8 million in proposed work on all pool facilities equates to 26.6 percent of the $6.7 million funding allotted for the Capital Projects List. The proposed budget also allots a total of $2.9 million for the Repair and Replacement Reserve (RRR) Fund, out of the $14.3 million in total overall expenses.
Some other big ticket items on the project list include:
- $2,321,359 for lakes, ponds and dams
- $465,000 for boat docks at Lake Anne and Lake Thoreau
- $406,658 for tennis courts
- $379,318 for asphalt trails
- $313,658 for vehicles and equipment
The next opportunity for Restonians to provide feedback to RA directors about the biennial budget is this Sunday. The RA is hosting a “community drop-in” at the Lake House (11450 Baron Cameron Ave.) from 10-11:30 a.m.
The RA Board has been discussing the budget since this summer in order to reach agreement before a November deadline. Sridhar Ganesan, RA Board at-large director and treasurer, questioned the various costs of the swimming pool facility repairs during some of those discussions, including at a special budget session last month (video).
“Plumbing in one facility isn’t going to be the same costs as the other, just because of the differences in configuration and size,” Garrett Skinner, RA director of capital improvement planning and projects, said in response. “All of those numbers were also vetted through contractors. Especially the pool buildings and swimming pool members. We had contractors come out and go physically through each one of the sites, look at what we have scheduled that needs to be done and determine costs based on that.”
Skinner, who was hired in January, also emphasized that some of the repairs were not anticipated in the association’s capital reserve study the was last performed in 2015. The study tracks needed maintenance and upgrades for RA-owned facilities. Instead, the repairs on the swimming pool facilities were proposed to be done during the next two years because the systems had broken down in some way.
“We’re doing it because it wasn’t in the reserve study for example; you’re doing it because something broke down?” Ganesan asked.
“Not all of these things were appropriately identified in the reserve study, but we still have to maintain them and repair them,” he said.
The first public hearing on the proposed budget will be Oct. 26 during a regular board meeting. A second hearing is scheduled Oct. 30 during a special meeting of the board. The board will vote on the budget and the annual member assessment rate Nov. 16 during a regular board meeting.
In an effort to generate more revenue, the Reston Association Board of Directors voted at its meeting last week (video) to consider the end of child care at The Lake House when tabulating the 2018 budget and assessment rates.
Summer camps at The Lake House will continue under the new direction. The Board’s decision also allows for the possibility of using the facility for spring and winter break camps, and for “general ad hoc community programming if that did not interfere with being able to rent out the facility.”
The topic was earlier discussed during a special Board session Sept. 18.
Eliminating the afterschool care at the facility will allow for more hours to be designated for rentals, the Board decided at its Sept. 28 meeting. According to the Reston Association website, The Lake House’s rental rates range from $100 to $275 an hour.
While an estimated 647 families participate in camps at The Lake House, only about two dozen children go to The Lake House after school for the “Fit Kids” program.
“In order to benefit, 12, 14, 16 families, we are asking 21,075 [households] to pay $6-$7 in additional assessments,” said Sridhar Ganesan, treasurer and At-Large director, referring to the difference in assessment rate the projected income from additional rentals would bring. “This facility has cost us between $4.25 and $4.5 million. … As a fiscally responsible Board, I would say we need to recover that money, at a minimum, even ignoring the time value of recovering that money, before we think of opening it up and giving it away free.”
The Board voted earlier this month to move forward with using reserve funds to pay off the loan on the facility, which has struggled to make money and continues to operate at a loss since being purchased and renovated by RA.
One affected parent, Erin Gable, addressed the Board to express her displeasure with their conversation.
“The Lake House is for members, not for corporations,” she said. “I get that a lot of money is still trying to be recovered from The Lake House situation, but this is a service to RA members that can be vitally important.”
CEO Cate Fulkerson also said that several affected parents had sent in letters. In the end, though, the Board determined that Reston Association should not be in the child-care business.
“It’s not that I want to take away your child care, it’s that I fundamentally recognize that we have a ton of members whose $6 is a big deal to them … to service a very small number of kids,” said Victoria White, Hunters Woods/Dogwood District representative. “Quite frankly, we’re a homeowners’ association. We’re not a child-care provider.”
Also at its meeting last week, the Board directed staff (video) to include a new position — a post-project approval inspector for the Design Review Board — in the second draft of the 2018 budget. This position, designed to help ensure that repairs and other work done on properties is completed on time and done in compliance with RA covenants, is estimated to add $55,885 (salary and benefits) to the budget. It will have a $2.65 impact on the assessment rate.
Decisions about budget items have not been finalized, as the full 2018-2019 budget is slated to be approved by the board in November.
During their special budget session Monday afternoon (video), the Reston Association Board of Directors voted to guide staff toward listening to PRAC’s recommendations when setting guidelines for the 2018 pool schedule.
The recommendations are to:
- Prior to Memorial Day: reinstate Monday-Friday weekday hours at the two open pools
- Memorial Day through end of school: ensure there is one pool in each district available by 10 a.m. on weekdays
- Through mid-August: reinstate the “closed day” to just once a week at most pools, as opposed to twice a week
- Mid-August through first day of school: continue to adjust operating hours at certain pools based on member feedback, and continue to reopen additional facilities for Labor Day weekend.
The suggested changes would add $2.88 to the projected assessment rate for 2018, RA staff has calculated. Restoring all of the pool hours that were cut in this year’s schedule would tack on an additional $1.60.
“The recommendation that is before you, by the Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee, was worked on with staff,” CEO Cate Fulkerson said, addressing a director’s question about concerns with finding seasonal workers for the pools. “Staff believes that it can achieve [these changes, but] it does not believe it can go back to the full-scale set of hours that we had in 2016.”
Members provided feedback about pool hours during listening sessions held by RA directors in May and June. In addition, member feedback on the issue was collected during a feedback session with the Board earlier this month. Fulkerson said about 25 members attended and shared their thoughts.
Director Julie Bitzer (South Lakes District) is the Board’s liaison to PRAC. She said she believes the recommended changes address the majority of comments that were received about the schedule.
During a special Monday afternoon session (video), the Reston Association Board of Directors voted to guide staff toward using operating reserves to pay off the remaining $2.4 million on the Lake House loan as the 2018 budget is compiled.
Sridhar Ganesan, treasurer and At-Large member, shared information with directors about what he says is a “low-risk” option that would benefit members. CEO Cate Fulkerson said staff “strongly desires” the loan be paid off this year using the reserves.
“These are things we should consider as a Board, but my own perspective is [that] if we cannot put the money to work in other areas, [then] this is like returning money back to the shareholders,” Ganesan said.
Ganesan said RA’s operating reserves have never fallen below $4 million, and that they peak at around $12 million each year as assessments are collected. Given this information, he said, there is little concern associated with funds being taken from the account and used to pay off the loan now.
Ganesan had earlier shared this information with members during a community budget workshop last week. Taking care of the loan would reduce the assessment rate by $8.66 in 2018.
Director Julie Bitzer (South Lakes District) asked whether Ganesan and staff had considered making the payoff in multiple stages instead of all at once, if the Board is “nervous” about taking so much from reserves. Ganesan said he believes there is no reason to be uncomfortable about taking the money from reserves in one lump sum.
“You have enough cashflow coming in [from assessments] in order to meet the expenses in case there is [any] problem,” he said. “[Even if] on March 1, only 50 percent of members have paid their assessments — that’s a real problem, that’s a crisis. But even then, we have collected 50 percent of assessments; that’s $7.5 million.”
(This article was updated at 6 p.m. to clarify information about interest payments on the loan.)
Speaking to members during a community budget meeting Thursday night, Reston Association’s treasurer made the argument for why the $2.4 million that remains on the Lake House loan should be paid as soon as possible.
Sridhar Ganesan explained to the small crowd at Reston Association headquarters that excess money is available in RA’s operating reserves that may be best used by taking care of the loan once and for all.
“I think the risk is pretty low [and] from a cash-flow perspective, I’m pretty comfortable [paying the loan off],” he said.
If the loan continues to be paid off through 2025, as is currently scheduled, Reston Association will be making payments of about $182,000 each year. In addition, there will be a $1.57 million balloon payment due at the end of the payments. Ganesan said interest rates are likely to increase between now and then as well, and refinancing costs would apply if RA decides to go that route.
Ganesan said that as Reston Association’s operating reserves have never fallen below $4 million — and peak at around $12 million each year as assessments are collected — funds are available to be taken from the account and used to pay off the loan now. Ganesan said interest on the loan collects at about $80,000 per year, while the idle operating reserves only gain about $59,000 in 2016.
Monthly operating spending for RA is about $1.25 million, Ganesan said.
“So the question is, what do we do? … Should we use that [reserve] money, that idle money, to pay off the loan?” Ganesan asked. “This is a question that we need to address, and we’d love to get comments from the public as well.”
Paying off the loan would result in RA’s projected 2018 member assessment rate decreasing by $8.66 per household, Ganesan said, and future assessment rates would benefit from having the loan off the books. The 2018 assessment was projected in the budget’s first draft at $678.
“It [would be] a use of money to pay back the members for the next 10 years,” he said.
Ganesan was asked whether he would have suggested paying for the Lake House property in full from reserve funding at the time of acquisition rather than borrowing the money. He said, if he were comfortable with the investment and the price was right, that “absolutely” would have been his suggestion.
The Lake House is projected to bring in about $143,000 in 2017, well below the $300,000 estimate that was in the budget. Ganesan said its budget projection for 2018 is $230,000 — with about $340,000 in expenses. He said RA is considering changing the way the Lake House operates in order to begin closing that gap, including possible expansion of operating hours and changing to an all-rental model (as opposed to offering programming there).
“Rentals tend to fetch a lot more money than programming,” he said. “So, should we just go to an all-rental model … in order to make sure we make as much money as we can, in order to make sure we get a payback from the investment?”
No decisions on the budget have yet been made.
The RA Board will have a special budget meeting, open to the public, Monday from noon-5 p.m. Members will also have an opportunity to discuss the budget with the Board of Directors at the Oct. 15 Lake House open house. Public hearings on the final draft of the budget will take place Oct. 26 and Oct. 30, and it is due to be finalized at the Board’s Nov. 16 meeting.
Thursday’s community meeting was recorded by Reston Association staff and will be made available on its YouTube channel soon.
Reston Association Budget Meeting Tonight — Sridhar Ganesan, treasurer and RA Board at-large director, will facilitate a budget-development community meeting tonight from 7-9 p.m. at Reston Association headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). According to information provided by Reston Association, members “are invited to share their thoughts and comments on issues related to next year’s budget.” [Reston Now]
Meeting on Fairfax County Parkway Trail Crossing Tonight — The County Department of Transportation has slated a community meeting to discuss options for improving safety at a trail crossing of a Dulles Toll Road ramp. The meeting is tonight from 6:30-8 p.m. in the cafeteria of Dogwood Elementary School (12300 Glade Drive). [Reston Now]
Changes Coming to South Lakes Bus Route — To address crowding associated with South Lakes High School ridership, Fairfax Connector will shorten headways on some afternoon trips on Route 551 beginning Sept. 30. [Fairfax Connector]
2017 Virginia Tax Amnesty Program Begins — Until Nov. 14, delinquent individual and business taxpayers can pay back taxes with no penalties and half the interest. [Gov. Terry McAuliffe]
No More ‘Wiley’-Reston East? — In a tweet responding to a rider’s question, Metrorail says it is “exploring ways” to fix automated voice announcements that mispronounce the name of the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station. [Metrorail Info/Twitter]
File photo courtesy Karen Raffel
As the Reston Association Board of Directors continues to work on the 2018-19 budget, RA members are encouraged to participate in a budget-development community meeting next week hosted by RA’s treasurer.
Sridhar Ganesan, treasurer and RA Board at-large director, will facilitate the meeting Thursday, Sept. 14 from 7-9 p.m. at Reston Association headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). According to information provided by Reston Association, members “are invited to share their thoughts and comments on issues related to next year’s budget.”
Two more budget work sessions, open to the public, are slated for Monday, Sept. 18, from noon-5 p.m. and from 7:30-10 p.m. Members will also have an opportunity to discuss the budget with the Board of Directors at the Oct. 15 Lake House open house.
The final draft of the 2018-19 budget is to be presented at the Board’s Sept. 28 meeting. There will then be a pair of public hearings on the budget in late October, as well as a community input opportunity at the Oct. 15 Lake House open house event. Approval of the operating and capital budgets, and the 2018 assessment rate, is scheduled to take place at the Board’s November meeting.
Reduced pool hours in the 2017 schedule drew the ire of many in the Reston community.
Now that the season is nearing its end, those members and others will have the opportunity to share feedback from their summer experiences.
The Reston Association Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee will be made available on Sunday, Sept. 10 from 10 a.m. to noon during an open house at The Lake House (11450 Baron Cameron Avenue). They will be collecting member input on the 2017 pool schedule, as well as thoughts and suggestions about what should be done in 2018.
This year, no pools were open on weekdays prior to Memorial Day. (In 2016, both the North Shore and Ridge Heights pools were open from 1-7 p.m. each weekday beginning May 14.) Through June 23, only four pools were open on weekdays, with one (Glade) open only three hours a night.
In addition, as school is starting next week — one week earlier than in past years — North Shore and Ridge Heights will be the only two pools open the week preceding Labor Day, from 4-7 p.m. each evening. However, RA has announced that Lake Audubon and Lake Newport pools will both be opened for Labor Day weekend.
North Shore and Ridge Heights pools will remain open on weekends and weeknights through Sept. 24.
Mike Leone, communications director for Reston Association, told Reston Now in April that the 2017 schedule was developed as part of an effort to “identify significant cost savings.”
“During the 2017 budget development process, the Board directed staff to identify significant cost savings in the budget to accommodate other strategic goals. Based on facility usage data collected over the past three years that shows a decline in pool attendance as well as feedback from the Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee, the Board of Directors approved pool schedule options by which the proposed aquatics budget could be reduced while still serving the interests of the membership as a whole.”
Members brought up concerns about the pool schedule during general member input sessions earlier this year. Those suggestions are being considered by the RA Board of Directors as part of their budget process.
Anyone who has input to share but is unable to attend the Sept. 10 event is invited to email comments to [email protected].
The Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee is scheduled to make a report on the issue to the Board of Directors at a budget work session Sept. 18.
The figure was discussed during a budget workshop session with the RA Board of Directors on Monday (video/PowerPoint presentation). That number would be a decrease of $42 (5.83 percent) from the 2017 assessment level of $720, which was reduced to $692 using surplus cash.
One of the major factors that influenced the budget development, allowing for the decrease in the proposed rate, is the additional assessment revenue that will be provided by 429 new units at the Sunrise Square and VY developments.
That assessment rate will likely change, though, before the Board finalizes the 2018 operations budget, projected at $14.3 million. The Board has been asked to consider numerous staff and member suggestions which could affect the budget.
One big way it could change depends upon whether the Board decides to pay off the loan on the Lake House. If it does so — at a cost of $182,797 — there will be a reduction of $8.66 in the 2018 assessment rate as a result of no longer making payments.
“Essentially, we’ll be using up our cash to pay off the loan,” Sridhar. “In the corporate world, you give it back to the shareholders, which in this case is the members.”
The 2018 budget currently on the table has the Lake House being maintained on the status quo, through programming and rentals while making payments on the loan. That would result in a net loss of more than $190,000, according to the projection. Other options on the table include continuing status quo for six months and then moving to only rentals, or to use the facility for rentals only. With those latter options, along with paying off the loan, the Lake House is projected to represent a net profit in the 2018 budget.
CEO Cate Fulkerson said staff “highly recommends” the Board pay off the loan at the end of this year.
“I am looking forward to that conversation, because I think that there is a lot of area where the Board can make a positive impact on the community, both financially and through programming,” said Sherri Hebert, Board president.
In addition to bringing in in-house legal support, the cost of which Fulkerson said would be canceled out by the savings from reducing outside legal services, the Board is also being asked to consider other staffing additions.
Anna Varone, director of covenants administration, asked the Board to consider adding a post-DRB project approval inspector. This position is estimated to add $55,885 (salary and benefits) to the budget, with a $2.65 impact on the assessment.
“We’ve been challenged by having projects that have been approved by the DRB and not having someone that’s been able to go and inspect after the member has installed the project,” Varone said. “We’ve not had the resources to go out and ensure that the member has installed the project correctly.”
Mike McNamara, deputy director of maintenance, said the Board should consider adding two seasonal workers to address litter control. This would cost about $40,000 (salary and supplies), with an impact of $1.93 on the assessment.
At a meeting last week, the Board was presented a potential $2.82 million Capital Projects budget.
A community meeting on the budget development process is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14. The Board will then hold further budget work sessions, along with a joint meeting with Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, on Monday, Sept. 18.
The final drafts of the capital projects and operations budgets are to be presented Sept. 28, with public hearings in October and the approval in November.