Reston Association Looks to Increase All Staff Salaries Amid Staffing and Retention Issues

Reston Association’s 2020-2021 budget, which would increase member assessments by five percent, will likely include across-the-board salaries increases for all staff. The move, which allocates $1 million over the next two years for salary and benefit increases, comes in response to unprecedented turnover last year and ongoing concerns related to staff recruitment and retention.

Last night (Thursday), RA’s Board of Directors also voted to approve reclassifying the positions of four staff members — whose names and salaries were not disclosed — because their positions were misclassified by RA. Board member Ven Iyer — who frequently challenged matters discussed by the board throughout the meeting — was the lone dissenting vote.

The board’s decisions were guided by a compensation study authorized by RA CEO Hank Lynch and conducted by Archer Company, a South-Carolina based firm that offers human resource management.

The study provided the basis for a one-time salary increase of 2.6 percent for all employees to “offset [the] recent below market merit pool,” as well as an increase in retirement match contributions and ensuring salaries are at or above the market rate within five years of service.

In 2020, the draft budget calls for nearly $227,594 in merit increases, $166,547 for a one-time salary increase, $132,277 to elevate salaries to the market midpoint, and $74,832 to match benchmarks by adjusting 401k matches. In 2021, roughly $445,960 in salary and benefits-related increases are also planned.

The board also expressed support for a documented compensation philosophy that aims to attract talent and offer salaries and benefits that are similar to comparable entities.

Board member John Mooney said the proposed compensation philosophy was “very balanced” and ensures RA is competitive with other similar employers, including the staff in municipal or county-level government positions in Fairfax and Arlington counties.

Iyer questioned if the comparison of RA to public entities with significantly larger budgets and resources was appropriate.

He also challenged the labeling of several documents received by the board with disclaimers like “RA board’s eyes only” and “extremely confidential” — a move that he said violates members’ trust because the materials were unrelated to contractual or business matters. RA declined to release the materials referenced by Iyer to Reston Now.

RA’s general counsel, Anthony Champ, said the documents were provided as background information to the board and their confidentiality could be assessed if an RA member requested the materials.

The organization’s fiscal committee was not consulted about the salary and benefits increases, Iyer, who is the board’s committee liaison, also stated.

The majority of the board, however, concurred with the need to increase salaries in accordance with the Archer study’s recommendations.

Board President Cathy Baum said the proposed salary and benefits increases were “logical” — challenging Iyer’s assertion that the board was acting based on emotion, not fact.

Iyer, however, said the Archer study was not prescriptive and instead pitched broad recommendations that were subject to the scrutiny of the board.

As the budget heads for adoption in November, Lynch said he hopes RA’s new outlook on compensation and benefits will provide market-based incentives to recruit and retain top talent.

Photo via YouTube/RA

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Friday Morning Notes

Reston Association to Hold Public Hearing on Budget — RA’s Board of Directors will hold a public hearing on the 2020-2021 biennial budget on Oct. 24 at 6:30 p.m. at RA headquarters. The budget is set to be approved by the board in November. [Reston Association]

Mentoring Program at South Lakes High School Kicks Off — “DIAMONDS (Determined, Intelligent, Ambitious, Motivated, Original, Nifty, Dazzling, Strength) is a mentoring program for young minority women-led by Angel Scott and Lisa Girdy. The program’s mission is to inspire, transform, and educate young ladies on how to be successful in every area of life. DIAMONDS kicked off its second year with many returning students, some new students, volunteers from the community, and dedicated South Lakes staff members who serve as mentors.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Reston-based Company partners with Leading Cloud Security Company — “FireEye, a publicly traded cybersecurity company with an office in Reston, Virginia, is partnering with cloud security company iboss to provide a joint tech solution for cloud-based cyber threat protection.” [Technical.ly]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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Reston Association Board to Discuss Proposed Budget Tonight

Reston Association’s Board of Directors will discuss the 2020-2021 budget at a special meeting tonight (Thursday).

The board is considering a five percent increase in member assessments for next year — amounting to roughly $728 per year.

Agenda materials have not been released yet. In response to questions from Reston Now about staff compensation and the future of RA’s pools, a spokesperson for RA said topics related to staff compensation would be addressed at the meeting.

Agenda materials have not been released yet, but the draft agenda covers the following topics:

  • Staff’s compensation philosophy
  • Findings of a staff compensation report
  • Sponsorship revenue plans and assumption
  • Existing programs and activities
  • Activities that will not happen in 2020
  • Ways to modify RA’s current assessment

The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at RA’s headquarters.

Photo via YouTube

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Thursday Morning Notes

Meet the Artist: Peter Fraize — Meet Fraize, a saxophonist and George Washington University professor, today at Reston Community Center’s CenterStage from 2:15-3:30 p.m. Fraize is best known for his freestyle jazz. [Reston Community Center]

Reston Association Board to Discuss Budget Today — RA’s Board of Directors will hold a budget workshop today at 6:30 p.m. at RA headquarters. The 2020-2021 budget includes a five percent assessment increase for members. [Reston Association]

County Fire Station to Host Open Houses — All Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Departments will host an open house this Saturday (Oct. 12) from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. Residents can meet firefighters and learn about fire safety. [Fairfax County Government]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Reston Association to Study Plans to Repurpose Hunters Woods Ball Field

Reston Association plans to explore ways to repurpose the Hunters Woods Ball Field using funds originally allocated for path lighting near Hunters Woods Village Center.

The field, which is located behind Reston Community Center, is no longer used by the Reston-Herndon Little League due to its distance from the nearest parking lot.

RA’s Board of Directors approved a motion to reallocate funds previously approved for pathway lighting at a meeting last Thursday (Sept. 26) to design, study and implement the project.

In tandem, RA plans to install 16 lights near the village center and the ball field. The roughly $100,000 project uses $81,300 in proffer commitment funds from the developer of Hunters Woods at Trails Edge, a senior living community on Colts Neck Road. The proffer is designated specifically for path lighting and cannot be used for any other purpose.

Larry Butler, RA’s Chief Operating Officer, said staff will work with the community to brainstorm possible ideas for the ball field. The Hunters Woods Neighborhood Coalition — which has long advocated for pathway lighting to improve safety in the area —  requested that RA examine the issue.

“We could do a lot of things there,” Butler said, adding the plan is in its early phases.

In a July 19 letter, the county’s planning staff indicating the ball field is classified as open space, which is designed for scenic or recreational purposes.

Meanwhile, RA is working with Dominion Energy to develop preliminary design plans for the pathway lighting project. The latest plan — which Butler said addresses the “area of most concern” —  is a scaled-back version of a 2014 plan to install 52 lights, which faltered due to limited funding.

The cost of the study is unclear, especially because RA will likely engage with a design architect to determine constraints on the site, including utility polls, Butler said.

The preliminary design calls for 16 LED, shoebox lights likely spread out by about 80 feet. The original plans did not call for LED lights.

Once plans are in place, the project will head to RA’s Design Review Board for a discussion and a vote.

File photo

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Reston Association Mulls Increasing Member Assessments By Five Percent Next Year

Members assessments could increase by five percent in 2020, according to the first budget draft reviewed by the Reston Association Board of Directors Thursday night.

The plan, which will undergo revisions before a final board vote in November, pitches increasing the rate to $728, a $35 increase from the previous year. The current assessment rate is $693, an $11 increase from the 2018 rate.

At the Thursday meeting, RA’s CEO Hank Lynch — who has been working with staff over the last several months to identify new and creative ways to manage RA’s budget — explained the changes to the fee as “an increase of less than 10 cents per day.”

Board Director Ven Iyer called Lynch’s description a “very stealthy way” to represent the assessment increase.

Lynch said the proposed budget includes roughly $390,000 in one-time capital spending, including improvements to the Lake House to increase rental revenue, the installation of a yurt as a new summer camp classroom and meeting space, “major” improvements to RA’s Lake Anne Plaza operations, and six permanent pickleball courts.

The budget would also fund five additional employees for covenants, social media IT to address a members’ request for a community app and other needs, land use, member services, and business engagement and sales to find ways to grow non-assessment revenue.

In a recent news release, Reston Association indicated that the member assessment rate would “avoid the past practice of using the association’s reserve funds to pay down the fee.” That financial practice was used by the board in over the last three years — a move that underwrote assessment rates by roughly $1.7 million in supplements.

Lynch said he hopes to find new resources of non-assessment revenue in the future in order to avoid using surplus cash to pay down fees.

In a statement on RA’s website, Lynch said that practice was unsustainable.

A working session on the budget is planned in October.

Photo via YouTube

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Thursday Morning Notes

Reston Association Board to Discuss Budget — RA’s Board of Directors will discuss the first draft of the upcoming budget at a meeting today (Thursday) at RA headquarters. Issues related to boat and dock policies, as well as path lighting near Hunters Woods Village Center, will also be discussed at the meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m. [Reston Association]

Burglary Reported at Forest Edge Elementary School — Police believe some broke into a school trailer and damaged property. The incident happened between Sept. 20 and Sept. 23. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Spots Available on Fairfax County Chaplain Corp. — The Fairfax County Community Chaplain Corps works as part of an emergency disaster team to provide chaplain care to community members impacted by the effects of a disaster or emergency. Register for an orientation session to meet current community chaplains, learn more about what it means to serve as a community chaplain and learn how to apply. [Fairfax County Government]

Photo by Jay Westcott

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With New Funding, Long-Awaited Path Lights Near Hunters Woods Under Consideration

After a proffer from the developer of Hunters Woods at Trails Edge, a long-awaited project to bring path lights near Hunters Woods Village Center is coming closer to reality.

The Reston Association Board of Directors is considering installing 16 poles and lights near the village center and repurposing ball field behind Reston Community Center that is no longer used by the Reston-Herndon Little League.

RA received $81,300 via a proffer from IntegraCare, the developer of the senior living community. Plans to improve lighting in the area have been in the works since as early as 2013, but were hampered by limited funding.

The cost of the project increased over the last several years. Previous cost estimations did not account for expenses related to Dominion Energy’s engineering and equipment costs.

The first stretch of pathway lights is expected to cost around $100,000. At the request of the Hunters Woods Neighborhood Coalition, RA is also considering repurposing the ball field.

RA plans to use the remaining balance of funds to study, design and consider repurposing the ball field. Overall, RA has $124,916 to complete the overall project — after accounting for costs related to completing tree surveys and preliminary design work.

Larry Butler, RA’s Chief Operating Officer, is expected to discuss the issue at a board meeting on Thursday, Sept. 26.

In draft agenda materials, RA staff noted that the installation of the first stretch of path lights does not preclude additional projects in the future.

Photo via Reston Association/handout, File photo

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Monday Morning Notes

Safety Reminders as School Begins — As the first day of the school year begins today, state officials are reminding residents to be careful as more pedestrian and vehicular traffic returns to neighborhoods and around schools. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Elden Street Sidewalk Funding Goes Before Commission — The Town of Herndon’s Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on an application to seek state funding for improvements to the sidewalks of Elden Street. [Town of Herndon]

Reston Association Board to Review Budget — The board is expected to discuss and review the first draft of the 2020-2021 budget at its September 26 meeting, which takes place at RA headquarters at 6:30 p.m. [Reston Association]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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At Budget Meeting, Residents Push for Lake Thoreau Pool to Remain Open

Several Reston Association members spoke in favor of Lake Thoreau pool — what they described as a community asset and a major draw for area neighborhoods — at a budget meeting on Wednesday (August 21).

During the special meeting between RA’s fiscal committee and Board of Directors, residents pushed RA to keep the pool open. The future of the pool has been in question after emails by Board of Director Julie Bitzer circulated in the community. One email states that the pool is slated to be closed next year as the board considered whether or not to renovate the pool or find other uses for the space.

When asked about Bitzer’s emails and the future of the pool, RA’s spokesperson said the organization said speculation the pool was slated to close next year was rumor.

As part of its budget development process, RA’s board and staff are gathering data on pool utilization rates.

“There have been no formal conversations by the RA Board on pool closing for the 2020 season,” said Mike Leone, RA’s director of communications, marketing and member services, in an August 14 statement.

Leone added that RA is conducting a review of all amenities, facilities and programs as part of budget deliberations  in order to ensure “RA is offering members the best services and value for their annual assessment.”

At the meeting, RA members said the pool is a significant community resources that they hope will stay. Others said contradictory information about the pool has created confusion in the community.

“I am just living to think that I found out by rumors that the pool is going to close,” said Susanne Joyner, a Cutwater Court resident. “What is the [ulterior] motive to this?”

The board will formally adopt the 2020-2021 budget in November.

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Reston Association: No Immediate Plans to Close Lake Thoreau Pool for 2020 Season

Reston Association has no immediate plans to temporarily or permanently close Lake Thoreau Pool, contrary to community speculation that the pool is set to shutter due to low usage next year.

The future of the pool — which is in need of major renovations and has struggled with comparatively low utilization — has been the focus of discussion over the last several years. Last year, one RA board members said the pool was “falling into the lake.”

So far, staff and the Board of Director have had no formal conversations to discuss any and all operational and capital costs associated with pools for next year’s season, said RA’s spokesman Mike Leone.

An August 8 email from Julie Bitzer, the board’s vice president, about the fate of the pool has attracted recent community concern. Some RA members circulated a flyer indicating that the pool would be closed next year as RA examines whether it should pursue renovation or consider another use of the space.

Leone said that speculation was simply a “rumor.”

RA is in the early phases of its budget development process. As part of ongoing discussions, board and staff are gathering data on the utilization and of RA’s community pools and other recreational amenities.

The organization’s analysis of its recreational facilities will help RA determine if and how future amenities will be impacted by closures, renovations or other changes.

A budget workshop on the first draft of the 2020-2021 budget is set for August 21 at RA headquarters (12000 Sunrise Valley Drive). A series of meetings, including public hearings, will precede the adoption of the budget in November.

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Reston Association Budget Workshop Set for August 21

Reston Association’s Board of Directors and its fiscal committee will meet later this month to discuss the first draft of the 2020-2021 budget.

The meeting, which is open to the public, is set for August 21 at RA headquarters (12000 Sunrise Valley Drive) at 6:30 p.m.

The budget process kicked off on May 23 when the board adopted the budget development calendar.

Later this month, RA’s staff will incorporate changes made to the budget from the meeting to form the second draft of the budget.

A public hearing on the second draft is set for September 26. The budget will be formally approved on November 21.

Photo via Reston Association/YouTube

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New Reston Sports Council Seeks to Become ‘Unified Voice’ for Local Sports

A new Reston Sports Council, which includes 13 representative organizations, is seeking to becoming a unified voice for the interests of the local sports community.

The council, which grew out of focus group discussions and meetings by Reston Association’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee in 2016 and 2017,  held its first meeting in February. Members involved the initiative presented updates to RA’s Board of Directors last week.

At the meeting, Jeremy Lee, the newly appointed chairman of the council and a Reston resident of more than 20 years, said the council is an independent entity and intends to speak as a single voice to RA the Fairfax County Park Authority and the county.

Organizers hope the council will also help sports organization — including those that are not formally organized — coordinate the use of RA facilities, consider bulk purchasing, review industry standards, and collaborate to solve shared challenges, according to Laura Kowalski, RA’s director of recreation and environmental education.

Former RA Board Director Jeff Thomas and current RA Board Director Julie Bitzer, who is also the board’s PRAC liaison, pushed for the formation of the council.

Bitzer, who lauded the initiative, said the council will be a productive way to ensure “all sports have a voice” and prevent one sport from dominating conversations.

Larry Butler, RA’s director of land use and planning, cautioned that only Reston-based organizations are allowed to use RA facilities based on RA’s resolutions and by-laws.

The council is in the process of developing its bylaws, operational procedures and website. It plans to hold monthly meetings that are open to all.

So far, the council serves 6,000 constituents involving in local sports, including Reston, Herndon and Great Falls.

Photo via Reston Association/YouTube

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Reston Association Explores ‘Creative’ Techniques to Boost Revenue

As budget season comes into full swing, Reston Association’s CEO Hank Lynch is exploring several ways to boost revenue beyond funds that come directly from member dues.

After conversations with RA staff, Lynch pitched several ideas — varying from concession stands at pools and tennis courts to a three-season education program for sailing — to RA’s Board of Directors at a meeting Thursday night.

Lynch floated ideas that he said could serve members while generating money for RA’s coffers.

Specifically, Lynch said RA’s competitive advantage lies in its ownership of local lakes, which could be the site of a new waterfront festival and paddle boat tours.

Other ideas that were suggested include but are not limited to:

  • Offering parking spots at RA’s Central Services Facility for rent during the Town of Herndon’s annual festival.
  • Creating a mobile concession truck that would travel to RA events and facilities
  • A floating dock for wedding, graduation and anniversary pictures at the Lake House
  • Electric shuttles to serve outdoor concerts, as well as paid tours

RA’s fiscal committee plans to vet all ideas that would cost more than $5,000, along with RA’s board.

The primary purpose of these ideas is to generate revenue — with the added bonus of providing a service to the community, RA board member Ven Iyer said.

RA’s 2020-2021 budget development process began in late May. The budget will be up fora vote on November 21.

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Thursday Morning Notes

The Harry Potter-inspired Offices of Reston-based Macedon Technologies — The company, which accelerates digital transformation for clients by using technology and software consultants, has been repeatedly listed as one of the best places to work. Its new 25,000-square-foot office has a Harry Potter theme. [Fairfax County Economic Development Authority]

Reston Association Board of Directors to Discuss Boats and Docks — The board meets tonight at 6:30 p.m. to discuss changes to its lake and boat resolutions and early thoughts on the budget. RA CEO Hank Lynch will also offer an update on RA’s strategic plan. [Reston Association]

Take a Break Concert is Tonight — Enjoy Tower House Band and dance music for all ages at Lake Anne Plaza from 7-9 p.m. today. [Reston Community Center]

Photo submitted by Christian Bolus

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