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Anchored by Downtown Development, Herndon’s 2019 Budget Boosts Spending

The Herndon Town Council passed a $60.2 million budget for next year, a nearly 18 percent increase over last year.

The budget package, which was approved Tuesday night, holds the line on taxes. The general fund budget increased moderately by 1.7 percent to $35.2 million.

A significant portion of the spending boost is tied to the development of downtown Herndon and vehicle and pedestrian access improvements.

The budget includes $2.7 million for improvements on Van Buren Street and Herndon Parkway, $730,000 for improvements at the intersection of Herndon Parkway and Spring Street and $900,000 for improvements at the intersection of Elden Street and Monroe Street. An additional $500,000 is included for downtown parking and an arts facility.

Local officials are considering adding a second story to the Herndon Community Center to create more space for fitness activities and storage. The project also includes plans to upgrade locker rooms and a reconfigured entrance to address issues with HVAC system in the current lobby.

Funding for a 4,000-square-foot nature center at Runnymede Park is also included in the budget.

The complete budget will be available online by July. 1

File photo

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Del. Ken Plum: The Other Branch of Government

This is a commentary from Del. Ken Plum (D-Fairfax), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

Legislators who were in Richmond on April 13 for the Special Session to complete work on the biennial budget interrupted their work on April 18 for the Constitutionally required Reconvened Session commonly referred to as the “veto session.” In 1980 the State Constitution was amended to provide that on the sixth Wednesday after the adjournment of a regular session the General Assembly is to reconvene “for the purpose of considering bills which may have been returned by the Governor with recommendations for their amendment and bills and items of appropriation bills which may have been returned by the Governor with his objections.” Prior to the establishment of a reconvened session, a Governor could veto bills without concern that the vetoes would be over-ridden.

Governor Terry McAuliffe set a record with nearly a hundred vetoes all of which were sustained by the General Assembly even if by the narrowest margin. Governor Ralph Northam has exercised his veto powers on eight measures that are highly unlikely to be challenged with the almost even distribution of partisan representation in both the House and Senate. A two-thirds vote is required to pass legislation without the Governor’s approval. In the case of Governor McAuliffe and now Governor Northam, vetoes by the other branch of government–the executive branch–have kept the General Assembly from enacting some of the more divisive laws on social issues proposed by extremely conservative legislators.

Two of the bills Governor Northam vetoed related to voter registration records that would unnecessarily burden the registration and voting process under guise of preventing fraud and abuse. Virginia has not had a problem with voting irregularities; the state’s problem has been to get more people to vote since Virginia has among the lowest levels of participation in the nation. Efforts to make it easier to vote such as “no excuse” absentee voting have been defeated in the General Assembly.

The Governor vetoed three bills that would limit the powers of local government when the local governments are in the best position to know what would best serve the people of a locality. One bill would have prohibited local governments from requiring contractors to pay more than minimum wage for work for the locality and another would interfere on local governments establishing property tax rates for country clubs. A bill that would prohibit “sanctuary cities” of which there are none in Virginia was also vetoed.

The Governor vetoed a bill that would have prohibited state participation in adopting regulations on carbon dioxide cap-and-trade programs thereby limiting Virginia’s ability to deal with climate change. He also vetoed a bill that would have allowed legislators to change legislative district lines between the federal census dates.

In considering bills passed by the legislature, all of which must be signed by the Governor to become law, the Governor can propose amendments. Of the dozens of amendments proposed by Governor Northam, most are technical corrections in language passed in the fast pace of the legislative session.

After the likely one-day Reconvened Session is adjourned, the General Assembly will return to the Special Session to complete the budget. I believe there will be good news to report on the budget very soon!

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Map It Out: If You Plan to Succeed, You Need to Plan

If you want to achieve your most cherished goals, you have to make your money work hard for you — and that means putting together a systematic and attainable plan.

According to many financial experts, the success of a long-range savings and investment plan is predicated not on the rate of return, but on the use of a systematic plan.

A financial plan, a central component to any comprehensive investment process, can help you avoid expensive financial mistakes that can seriously damage your financial health, including taking on too much debt, not saving enough and placing too much of your financial assets in investments with a high level of risk.

A Comprehensive Investment Process

In developing a comprehensive investment plan, you need to start by gathering information. By taking a careful look at your assets and liabilities, insurance coverage, how long you have to save for retirement and the tax status of your various accounts, you can better prepare for your future.

As you are reviewing your current financial situation, you will want to identify issues and opportunities. Depending on where you are in your financial life cycle, you may have specific short- and long-term goals to consider.

  • During the Wealth Accumulation phase, as you are gathering and building assets, you may also be establishing your career and family, planning for your children’s education and saving for retirement.
  • During the Wealth Distribution phase, when you have built a strong portfolio of assets, you may be considering retirement, purchasing a second home, helping your children financially and developing an estate plan.
  • The Wealth Transfer phase represents the culmination of a successful strategy as you prepare to transfer your wealth to your heirs and favorite charities in a tax-advantaged way, both during your life and at death.

All of this information should be factored into your financial plan. A Financial Advisor can evaluate where you are financially and help you plan for the future.

Next, you and your Financial Advisor need to develop an investment strategy to put your financial plan into action.

This strategy should consider risk vs. reward, proper asset allocation and portfolio diversification. Together, you and your Financial Advisor can develop a plan designed to minimize risk and maximize opportunities that can help you reach your goals.

Once your plan is designed, you need to implement it. Your Financial Advisor will help you choose quality investments to put your strategies to work.

Regular reviews of your investment plan help ensure that your asset allocation and investment strategies continue to meet your changing needs.

Article approved by Robert W. Baird & Co. for Matthew Cash, Financial Advisor at the Reston office of Robert W. Baird & Co., member SIPC. Matt has 9 years of financial services industry experience, and can be reached at 571.203.1677, or [email protected]. Robert W. & Co. does not offer tax or legal advice.

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Tomorrow: Local Meeting on Fairfax County’s $4.3 Billion Budget Proposal

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

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Wednesday Morning Notes

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]

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Wednesday Morning Notes

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]

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Thursday Morning Notes

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]

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Monday Morning Notes

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]

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Reston Association Board To Consider PRC Zoning Amendment Motion Thursday

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.

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$1.8 Million Renovation of Reston Association Pools Up for Discussion in Budget

Major upgrades to swimming pools are proposed in the budget that is under discussion by the Reston Association Board of Directors.

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.

Skinner said Ganesan was correct, adding that the maintenance is necessary.

“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.

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Reston Association Board Moves Forward With Ending Afterschool Programming at Lake House

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.

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Some Reston Association Pool Hours May Be Reinstated in 2018

Some pool hours that were lost in the 2017 schedule may return in 2018, after recommendations from Reston Association’s Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee (PRAC).

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.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the Reston Association Board of Directors voted to give their backing to:

  • paying off the Lake House loan from reserves (reducing $8.66 in projected 2018 assessment rate), as well as ending afterschool and other programming there (reducing between $3.31 and $6.80 in projected 2018 assessment rate)
  • adding two seasonal workers to assist with litter pickup efforts (adding $1.93 to projected 2018 assessment rate) and purchasing 10 more trash cans at a cost of $900 each (adding 43 cents to projected 2018 assessment rate)
  • making accessibility improvements to Walker Nature Center, at a cost of $30,000 (adding $1.42 to projected 2018 assessment rate), along with $50,000 to be contributed by Friends of Reston
  • appropriating $2.9 million to the 2018 Repair, Replacement & Reserve Fund

The Board also discussed the potential of adding a post-DRB project approval inspector, whose job would be to “ensure that members have built their DRB approved projects in accordance with the plans and specifications submitted to the DRB for approval.” Adding the position would have a $2.65 impact on the projected 2018 assessment rate. The Board chose to defer making a guidance decision on that position until their Sept. 28 meeting.

Directors also discussed a member request to stop mowing medians, which would save RA about $54,860 and reduce the 2018 assessment rate by $2.60. Directors agreed that as the Virginia Department of Transportation would only do the work three times a year, as opposed to the 16-18 times a year it is done by RA, discontinuing the effort at the local level would seriously harm the appearance of the community. The Board voted not to back the recommendation.

All votes at Monday’s meeting were for guidance purposes only as the second draft of the budget is compiled. No official decisions have yet been made.

Board guidance on the second draft of the 2018 budget must be completed at their Sept. 28 meeting. Another community budget session is slated for Sunday, Oct. 15, followed by public hearings on Oct. 26 and Oct. 30. The budget is to be approved, and the assessment rate set, during the Board’s Nov. 16 meeting.

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Reston Association Board Gives OK To Consider Payoff of Lake House Loan in 2018 Budget

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.”

In addition, directors discussed rentals and programming at the Lake House with Laura Kowalski and Mike Leone, RA’s deputy director of recreation and communications director, respectively. In Ganesan’s budget projections, he says that possible expansion of operating hours and increasing the ratio of rentals to programming at the facility would increase profitability.

Afterschool programming at the Lake House, which begins at 2:30 p.m. each day, can hinder the opportunity to rent the property out for daylong corporate retreats, Leone said.

“Most businesses, if they want to do a retreat offsite, typically are looking at wanting to come in at around 8 o’clock in the morning … and then they want to go until, at a minimum, 4 or 5 o’clock in the afternoon,” he said. “They really don’t have that [opportunity] today because, realistically, if you’re doing a corporate meeting there you have to be out at the latest … at about 1:30.”

Nineteen families participate in afterschool programming at the Lake House, Kowalski said. Over 100 kids participate in summer camp there.

The Board guided staff, as it compiles its 2018 budget projections, to consider ending afterschool and other programming at the Lake House while maintaining a summer camp there. This would allow for evening rentals in the summer and all-day rentals the rest of the year.

The Board also voted to guide staff to move forward with considering expansion of rental hours at the Lake House to 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, which would put it in line with RA’s other rentable properties. Renters would need to comply with the Fairfax County Noise Ordinance.

Director John Mooney (North Point District) said he was concerned about being fair to those who are already under contract for afterschool programming. He suggested contacting them immediately to let them in on the discussion.

No official decisions have yet been made on the budget or about 2018 Lake House operations.

Board guidance on the second draft of the 2018 budget must be completed at their Sept. 28 meeting. Another community budget session is slated for Sunday, Oct. 15, followed by public hearings on Oct. 26 and Oct. 30. The budget is to be approved during the Board’s Nov. 16 meeting.

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Treasurer: RA Would Be Wise To Consider Paying Off Lake House Loan ASAP

(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.

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Thursday Morning Notes

Lake Anne Concert Series Ends Tonight — The “Take A Break” concert series at Lake Anne Plaza will wrap up tonight with a show from Texas Chainsaw Horns, an R&B group, from 7-9 p.m. [Lake Anne Plaza]

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

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