In its most recent public hearing on the proposed budget for 2018, held on Monday evening (video here), members of the Reston Association Board of Directors proposed yet another new assessment rate of $681 for residents.
The rate would equal a decrease of $39 from the 2017 initial proposed rate of $720, which was later reduced to $692 only through the spending of around $550,000 in reserve cash.
Previously, in the first draft of the budget, the assessment rate had been proposed at $678.
On Monday evening, board treasurer and at-large director Sridhar Ganesan said a few changes had brought it back up roughly $3 to $681. Those changes included the decision to pay off the loan on the Lake House renovations using reserve cash, which shaved $8.66 off assessment rates, and changes to the RA pool schedules he said they made in response to resident feedback, which added another $2.88 back on to the rate.
“There was a lot of public request from a pool schedule request. We changed that – we brought a lot of it back to around what the 2016 levels were,” Ganesan explained.
Ganesan said other cost-saving measures had initially allowed the directors to get assessments all the way down to $670, but after the first few budget work sessions and last week’s first public hearing, more changes were made. Those included adding staff coverage for more litter clean-up and the handling of Design Review Board covenants requests, as well as the adding of an additional Parks and Recreation staff member. In addition, Ganesan said healthcare costs for some employees went up slightly with the recent annual enrollment period.
“So, with some changes up and some changes down, we ended up at $681,” he finished.
Only one resident showed up for the public hearing portion of the evening. The woman asked for more maintenance of tennis courts due to high usage, including repaving and cleaning of mold and slime from the courts, which she said are a slipping hazard. Additional lighting was also requested, particularly at courts in the south part of Reston.
Furthermore, the woman asked for a feasibility study for the addition of indoor tennis options.
“It’s something our tennis community has been wanting for a long time,” she said, pointing out that it would allow for year-round lessons and exercise opportunities for residents.
Following the public comments, the meeting was adjourned.
The final vote on the 2018 budget and assessment rate is scheduled to take place at the board’s regular meeting on Nov. 16.
Ganesan immediately took his new seat at the directors’ table after the ballots were counted.
Ganesan is president of the Reston Citizens Association and also heads the group that applied to conduct the audit of the Tetra/Lake House purchase and renovations.
“I’m here for the same reason many of you are; I want to be a volunteer,” Ganesan said when addressing the board just before the ballots were cast. “And I feel this is the right time for me to step up and serve.”
Ganesan said he feels community involvement is crucial now, perhaps more so than ever.
“I think RA is at a critical juncture at this stage, as it is attempting to inspire renewed trust and confidence with the community.”
He added that through his experience as a CFO, he is familiar with taking recommendations from experts and moving them past the “talking” phase and into the implementation phase, which he thinks will be a valuable skill he can bring to the table.
“I also bring a lot of corporate finance experience, which is something I think could be of great help when it comes to balancing capital investment projects,” he added, explaining that the “balancing” part means not “analyzing something to death,” while also being sure to follow correct procedures and being as transparent as possible, which is crucial when dealing with public money.
“I think I can help build bridges with the public community, as the CFO of a public corporation,” he concluded.
Mike Werner, who ran against Ganesan for the treasurer’s seat, continues to serve on the Reston Association Finance Committee, which he has been a member of since 2014.
Image: Sridhar Ganesan via Twitter