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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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Friday Morning Notes

Budget to increase Reston Association’s assessment fee by $11 — After hashing out several drafts of the 2019 operating and capital budgets, next year’s assessment fee is proposed to include an $11 increase, setting the rate of $693. [Reston Today]

A big win for the governor — Roughly 400,000 newly eligible low-income adults in Virginia can start enrolling in Medicaid, scoring a major win for the state’s Democratic governor. [WTOP]

Get your absentee votes in — Tomorrow is the last day for in-person, absentee voting. Ten locations are available for voting. [Fairfax County Government]

Daylight savings and Metro — Time changes are likely to change how you do things this weekend and that applies to Metro service as well. [WTOP]

Photo by David Toms

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How to Address Three Common Financial Mistakes

Provided by Matthew Cash with Baird Wealth Management.

Through my years as a Financial Advisor, I’ve met with dozens of people. Many of whom want to confirm that what they’re doing is correct. Here are some of the most common mistakes I’ve seen…

They haven’t changed their investments in years — This is common with 401(k)’s & Rollover IRA’s. They may have met with an advisor or someone at a bank or discount brokerage firm. And that person helped get them into the right investments (hopefully).

They get a statement every month with the person’s name on it. And other than a few hiccups here and there, the account has shown steady growth. So why should they change?

Imagine you originally started with a portfolio of 60% stocks & 40% bonds. If stocks grew 7% every year & bonds 3%, after five years your portfolio would be comprised of 65% stocks & 35% bonds.

You’ve unintentionally increased your portfolio risk. All while moving closer to retirement.

They do it themselves (there may be some overlap here with the previous example. Especially with 401(k)’s) — Despite having a full-time job, this person wants to handle their investments on their own. And like the previous example, they think it’s been working.

Unfortunately, the average investor underperforms the market by about 2% per year. And if they think they can beat the market, they’re probably wrong. In fact, most professional active managers underperform their respective benchmarks in the long run.

On a $500,000 portfolio, underperforming the market by 2% adds up to about $110,000 over a 10-year period.

They hold too much cash — Holding a lot of cash makes people feel secure. It never loses value. And they may even earn a few dollars on it every month. What’s the problem?

Unless you’re earning 2% interest on your cash, you’re actually losing money due to inflation. And, as mentioned in the previous example, 2% can add up to a lot. Some cash in your portfolio is ok, as long as it’s part of a financial plan.

So, what should you be doing?

Have a formal financial plan. One that answers the following questions:

1. What is the probability that I will achieve my financial goals?

Knowing this is critical. And it should be the first thing an advisor helps you to determine. It is a specific number. And once you know the answer, you can move on to the second question:

2. Can I increase the probability of achieving my financial goals?

Whether it be reallocating to the proper investments, changing the order of what you’re funding, or changing how you’re spending, you can likely increase your probability of success.

This, along with adjusting for any life-changing events, and rebalancing your portfolio when necessary, can lead to success.

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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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