After months of discussion, Reston Association’s Board of Directors unanimously approved stricter financial controls, a need flagged by two in-depth reviews of RA’s $2.65 million purchase of the Tetra property.
StoneTurn Group, an independent firm contracted to review the purchase and associated cost overruns, and a review by two RA members cited the need for updating RA’s purchasing and procurement policies over the last year.
The approval expands RA financial controls by requiring the involvement of multiple stakeholders in the review and approval process of contracts. The changes also clearly delineate steps required before and as contracts are considered. Major purchases require additional scrutiny and a greater emphasis is placed on competitively bid contracts.
Current policies have been criticized by some members as ambiguous and lax, resulting in a decision on the Tetra property that reviews indicate was not up to par.
All purchases above $2,500 require documentation justifying the need for purchases, at least two written quotes from competitive sources, an agreement reviewed by legal counsel and a purchase order signed by the department director, CFO and CEO.
Purchases between $5,000 and $24,999 require at least three written quotes from competitive sources. Major purchases of $25,000 and above require the issuance of a request for proposals, at least three written bids, a closed session meeting and final approval of the scope and pricing of the contract at an open board meeting.
For approval of those contracts, the approval of majority of board officers – defined as the president, vice president, treasurer, secretary and a board liaison for RA’s fiscal committee — is required. Earlier versions of the resolution allowed the fiscal committee chair to partake in the approval process — a move that RA Board Director Julie Bitzer said was inappropriate because it elevated the rank of a volunteer members to that of an elected board member.
Bitzer said she was amenable to allowing the fiscal committee and its chair to contribute by providing a general review.
In order to prevent the board from micromanaging the work of RA’s staff, Bitzer also suggested receiving an annual review of contracts awarded by staff, including a categorical breakdown based on cost brackets created by the resolution.
A move by Board Director John Mooney to require all contractors or service agreements to include provisions that prevent employees from discrimination based on factors like sex, race, color, national origin and religion also passed.
“These are times that we need to speak on such matters,” Mooney said.
Board director Victoria White objected to the proposal because she said it was more appropriate to include the provision in contractual language.
“Bottom line is, it needs to have teeth.” White said.
Other board members said the inclusion of Mooney’s amendment sends a strong message of RA’s position to the community.
After months of discussion, Reston Association’s Board of Directors will consider a move Thursday to strengthen its procurement controls and policies in response to a third-party review of RA’s controversial $2.65 million purchase of the Tetra property.
The rewrite of RA’s purchasing and procurement policies — which were last updated nearly six years ago — was recommended by StoneTurn Group, the forensic accounting firm contracted by RA to review the controversial purchase and cost overruns linked to the buildin’s renovation. A recent presentation by two RA members also flagged multiple concerns.
“As a result of the Tetra Property Purchase Review by the StoneTurn Group several recommendations were made that the Association should strengthen, and the better document the Association’s policies and practices related to procurement and purchasing,” wrote board president Sherri Hebert in the draft proposal. Hebert was not available for comment.
The move expands RA’s current policies by building in more internal controls, stricter financial checks to avoid sole source contracting and seek competitive bidding, and improved documentation. Major purchases above $25,000 require board approval, among other levels of scrutiny.
If approved, the policies would address four broad areas: procurement rules, competitive procurement and purchasing, re-competing for services and rules governing sole service providers.
Reston Association has officially paid off its million loan for the purchase of The Lake House. The board of directors elected to pay off nearly $2.42 million of the remaining balance.
Formerly Tetra, The Lake House has been hit with financial difficulties since it was purchased for $2.6 million — about twice its assessed value — in 2015. RA showed a cost overrun of $430,000 last spring, due in part to a six-figure expected rent back from former owner/tenant Tetra that did not happen. Renovations on the property to transform it into a community building have cost three times more than expected. An independent audit was requested.
RA is looking into new ways to make the facility a reliable source of income — a concern that was raised in previous RA meetings where some board members expressed dismay that RA was losing money on the project.
This year, the facility is expected to produce $224,000 in rental income. According to an RA statement, paying off the loan early will allow each member to save $8.66 on their assessment. If the facility produces target rental incomes, members can receive another $6.17 in savings, according to RA.
Reston Association will host an open house on Dec. 3 at The Lake House on 11450 Baron Cameron Avenue.
Through a referendum two years ago, RA members voted to allow the association to purchase the property. Renovations have been completed. The board’s goal was to increase and enhance green space on the site and increase more opportunities for community and recreational events.
The Lake House is also available for rentals, which began in the summer of 2016.
The last weekend in April is expected to bring hot weather, pushing the high 80s or even the low 90s. Summer is still almost two months away but it looks like this weekend will be a good early taste of it.
There are plenty of fun activities on the agenda for this weekend, whether you want to play outside or you’d rather be inside where it’s cool.
Here is just a sample of the events going on around the area this weekend.
- Saturday marks the opening day of the Reston Farmers Market at Lake Anne Plaza. From 8 a.m. to noon, vendors will be offering their goods as the 20th season of the market kicks off. The Pink Armoire fashion bus will be a special guest this week.
- Tonight, from 5:30-8 p.m., will be the Empty Bowls fundraiser at Floris United Methodist Church (13600 Frying Pan Road, Herndon). Proceeds go to Food for Others. Tickets will be $30 at the door.
- The Mighty Mile kids’ race will be Sunday beginning at 8 a.m. at Reston Town Center. Kids ages 6-14 will run one mile; 4- and 5-year-olds will run a half-mile; and kids under 4 will participate in the Tot Dash.
- South Lakes High School Theatre is performing “Beauty and the Beast” this weekend and next. This weekend’s shows are tonight and Saturday at 7 p.m., and at 2 p.m. Saturday. Tickets at the door are $10-$12.
- Reston Children’s Center (11825 Olde Crafts Drive) will host its Spring Carnival from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. It will include food, bounce castles, raffles and prizes, face painting, and carnival games.
- The Mercury Fountain at Reston Town Center will be turned on for the season during a ceremony at 1 p.m. Saturday. The event will include refreshments, family festivities and a dedication honoring Relay for Life.
- Other events at Reston Town Center this weekend include Independent Bookstore Day at Scrawl Books (11862 Market St.), a cooking class at Il Fornaio (11990 Market St.), and live entertainment at World of Beer (1888 Explorer St.) tonight and Saturday.
- “Radcliffe Bailey: The Great Dismal Swamp” remains on display at Greater Reston Arts Center (12001 Market St.) through August.
- The Reston Friends Semi-Annual Book Sale is going on all weekend at Reston Regional Library (11925 Bowman Towne Drive).
- The Meeting House at Frying Pan Farm Park (2739 West Ox Road, Herndon) served as a field hospital, encampment and picket post during the Civil War. From 1-3 p.m. Sunday, re-enactors, exhibits and a special guest speaker will share information about the lives of those soldiers.
- Reston Association will host an open house at The Lake House on Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon.
- “First Blooms” by artist Dorothy Donahey will be on exhibit at Reston Art Gallery and Studios (11400 Washington Plaza W.), one last weekend. The gallery is open from noon to 5 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.
- This will be the last weekend for “A Respite from Chaos” at Reston Community Center’s Jo Ann Rose Gallery (1609 Washington Plaza N.).
- NextStop Theatre Company (269 Sunset Park Drive, Herndon) is performing “Boeing, Boeing” through May 7. Performances this weekend are tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m., 2 p.m. matinees Saturday and Sunday, and a 7 p.m. showing Sunday. Tickets are $35-$55.
- Lucky Dog Animal Rescue will have its “Puppy Palooza” on Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. at Pet Valu (11160-E South Lakes Drive).
- Kalypso’s (1617 Washington Plaza N.) will have live music tonight, 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., from Holly Montgomery Band. DJ Kram will play Top 40 hits Saturday night.
- Vinafera Wine Bar and Bistro (11750 Sunrise Valley Drive) has live music from 7-10 p.m. every Friday and Saturday night in April.
This is an op-ed by Reston resident Ed Abbott. It odes not represent the opinion of Reston Now. Something on your mind? Send us a letter at [email protected]
I attended last night’s meeting of the Board of Directors and witnessed the Board’s approval for funding the renovations of the Lake House.
Cate Fulkerson, the Association’s Chief Executive Officer, gave a Power Point presentation justifying the expenditure of $430,000 similar to the one that she presented to the Finance Committee on Monday.
Each Board member discussed their views after which the Board voted approval for the expenditure. As a result, both the Board and Ms. Fulkerson have failed their fiduciary responsibility in accordance with the Association’s governing documents. Here’s why:
The Board of Directors of the Association has a “fiduciary responsibility” requiring them to act in the best interest of the corporation. This responsibility is written into the Virginia’s state corporation law. Reston Association is a non-profit corporation and has filed articles of incorporation with the state. Those articles of incorporation comply with Virginia law. (more…)
RA is marketing the rehabbed space as “coming soon” and as “an affordable and ideal location with its park-like grounds” as a place for:
- Small to mid-sized weddings and celebrations
- Corporate functions and retreats
- Workshops and conferences
- Private functions
A working group has been meeting since October on uses for the property, which sits on a little over three acres on the shores of Lake Newport. The 15-member group is expected to make its final presentation to the RA Board at the board’s meeting on May 26, and the board is expected to vote on longterm usage.
But even without the big-picture plan in place, RA is already marketing its new after-school program, which will begin in Fall 2016. After care is expected to bring in more than $100,000 annually to the association, though operating expenses will offset about 40 percent of income.
A $650,000 contribution from developer Comstock has helped fund the exterior renovations that have been taking place the last several months. RA, which borrowed the entire $2.6 million, has said members will not see an impact due to the purchase to annual assessments until at least 2018.
At the renovated building, there are two rooms for public use. According to the marketing materials:
The Lakeside Room offers access to the deck overlooking Lake Newport and can accommodate 50 guests.
The Lake View Room can accommodate 100 guests in a natural light-filled setting with a fireplace.
The entire facility can also be rented for up to 150 guests.
Rates are $100-$275/hour, RA materials say. Reservations are available at [email protected] or by calling 703-435-6530.