Julie Reiss wants out. Feliza Kepler couldn’t agree more. She said it’s unanimous with every member of her homeowners association, Equestrian Park.
Reiss and Kepler are just two members of a growing group of Reston residents who have begun mounting a campaign to get out of Small Tax District 5, which encompasses Reston and funds the Reston Community Center. Residents inside the tax district pay 5.2 cents per $100 assessed property value. For example, the owner of a home valued at $500,000 currently pays $260.
“The consensus seems to be that they don’t see the value in paying for something they don’t use,” said Steve Sepulveda, a Reston resident who lives in Great Falls Crossing. In all, six homeowners associations — Ascot, Equestrian Park, Great Falls Crossing, One Cameron Crescent, Piney Run and Branderville — have expressed interest in being excluded from the tax district. Equestrian Park is located near the eastern boundary, while the other four neighborhoods are located along the northeast border. “We don’t even have access to Reston streets unless we go to Route 7,” said Reiss, a board member of Ascot HOA.
THIS GROUP of tax district dissidents recently witnessed about 600 neighbors to the south and southeast, tax district residents with Herndon, Oakton and Vienna addresses, mount a similar campaign, which resulted last month in Fairfax County’s decision to eliminate them from the borders of the tax district.
Members of the five homeowners associations, all with Reston addresses, are hoping to duplicate their predecessors’ success, but they may have made it easier on themselves by entering the process mid-stream.
The group, which missed the RCC public hearings held in February, showed up to the March 27 hearing held by the county. “Our community associates with the families, organizations and facilities where our children attend school, which is not the RCC community,” said Michael Fox, president of Ascot Homeowners Association, representing 69 single family homes.
Their pleas did not fall on deaf ears. After hearing their testimony, the Board of Supervisors not only adopted the border changes, but also directed staff to examine the requests from other neighborhoods within Reston who wanted to be removed from the 30-year-old tax district.
WHILE A LACK of usage has been the largest argument for exclusion, others say they have few if any connections to Reston.
Reiss and Sepulveda’s children don’t go to Reston schools. Instead, they reside in the Langley pyramid. Students who live in Equestrian Park are in the Madison pyramid.
“To continue to identify us as part of the Reston urban core is a threat to our identity,” said Kepler, who has lived there since 1982.
“It’s fine to have a community center, but it should serve and belong to the community who uses it and values it,” said Reiss.
Sepulveda pointed out that 58 out of 350 homes in Great Falls Crossing were never in the tax district. With the recent changes 15 more homes were taken out, while 277 homes were left in.
Sepulveda said he was lucky to even find out about the additional tax.
He noticed it last year when the tax rate was reduced to $1 of $100 assessed value. When he called to say he was paying more than the tax rate, he was notified of the contribution he made to fund the RCC. But even on his tax assessment, which includes a line item for “small tax district,” there was no mention of the additional tax.
“It seems like the county goes out of its way to make sure we don’t know about the tax district,” said Sepulveda.