Over the last few months the Reston Community Center (RCC) Board of Governors has been crunching the numbers in their annual budget.
And recently they submitted their proposed budget, including a .8. cent property cut for special tax district number five, to Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins. Hudgins added this cut, as an amendment, to the overall Fairfax County Budget.
So now, instead of paying six cents per every $100 of assessed property value, Reston homeowners will pay 5.2 cents per every $100. And even though the cut is less than a penny, RCC executive director Dennis Kern said the cut will take a significant chunk of revenue.
"Although it is a .8-cent cut in the tax rate, it is a 13 percent reduction in tax revenue," Kern said.
Taxes from special tax district number five, which encompasses most of Reston, fund the RCC. The community center maintains a $5.4 million budget, but should be able to handle the cut in revenue. To cover the 13 percent decrease in revenue, the community center plans to dip into reserve money that has been building up over the past two years. There is about $2.5 million dollars currently in the RCC managed reserve fund.
"The surplus will be used up," said RCC board chair Ruth Overton. "That’s what we want. The best way for the tax payers to get what they want is for us to use their money. We never intended to hoard it."
AS ASSESSMENTS HAVE gone up in recent years, the RCC surplus has grown. The community center bases its annual budget on financial projections made by Fairfax County. If assessments grow higher than what the county predicts, the community center takes in extra revenue.
"In the past few years the county has been conservative in their estimates, so we’ve been putting the surplus into our reserve fund," Overton said.
The new budget is based on a 10 percent annual rise in assessments over the next five years.
And although the tax cut will eliminate a percentage of this surplus revenue, there will be money left over for some of the community center’s more ambitious projects. For years the community center has been talking about building a skate park. There is funding in the budget for this project, should the RCC Board of Governors approve it.
Within a month, the board is expecting a business plan evaluating the skate park. This business plan will tell the board members how high a user fee will be necessary for the skate park to pay for its own maintenance. Construction of the park, which is planned to be built behind the Reston YMCA, should cost between $700,000 and $800,000.
"If the numbers say this is a good thing to do, we have enough money right now to build a skate park," Kern said.
And even though Hudgins added the tax cut to the county budget, she was the lone supervisor to vote against the budget as a whole. This year’s Fairfax County budget included a two-cent tax cut, to offset rising assessments. Hudgins said that tax cut was unfounded.
"We are responsible for being good caretakers of citizens dollars," Hudgins said. "We still have services that are going unfunded."
Hudgins said county child care services should be expanded, that money for substance abuse and mental health services should not have been capped, and that domestic violence centers are understaffed. She also doubted that the school system received a sufficient increase in funding.