0
Votes

Helping Shape RCC's Future

Reston Community Center to conduct public hearings asking residents to consider funding.

While the Reston Community Center Board of Governors traditionally makes policy decisions related to programming, the nine-member group is gearing up to make what may be some of the most important decisions in the center’s history.

In the coming weeks, RCC is conducting two public hearings, on Saturday, Feb. 11 and Wednesday, Feb. 15, to hear what residents of Small Tax District 5 think about how the RCC pays for its programming. For instance, is the current tax on district residents too much, too little or just right? The answer to that question impacts the type of community center Reston will have in the future.

According to Joseph Lombardo, board president, the board is soliciting comments from the community so the board can make informed future decisions on RCC funding.

“The key issues for RCC concern the relative balance between the benefits RCC affords its community and the tax burden it imposes, and the extent of consensus among various segments of District 5 as to whether the current balance is appropriate.”

The issue of RCC funding was thrust to the top of the board’s priority list last fall when four new members of the board were elected on an anti-tax platform.

But for others on the board, the issue is much more black and white.

“The issue is do we need to cut funding or enhance it,” said Terry Smith, board member. “The four newly-elected members came in with the idea that they would cut the taxes or stop spending.”

Smith said that it would be a bad idea to cut taxes because of the negative impact it would have on programming.

“If you take away the funding of the center, you become another Oak Marr — a gutted community center,” said Smith.

BOARD MEMBERS agree that, regardless of the outcome, the issue will be controversial.

Mary Buff, who was elected to the board last fall, said that she has already begun to hear from many members of the community on the tax issue. “A lot of people have said they want to get rid of the tax district,” said Buff. “Then, there are those that say the RCC is so heads and shoulders about everything the county is doing that we shouldn’t touch it at all.” All the other views in between have also been represented in comments she’s heard, said Buff.

Currently, the RCC is funded by a real estate surtax of 5.2 cents per $100 of assessed value. The tax is in addition to the property tax that funds the county. Not all community centers and recreation centers are funded the same way.

Last October, the people of the tax district elected four new people to the Board of Governors. Running as an anti-tax slate, the new members included Buff, Kevin Deasy, George Lawton and Peter von zur Muehlen. Teaming with Lombardo, the slate gained a majority on the board. They proceeded to elect Lombardo as chairman of the board, who has said lowering the tax rate for residents is a chief consideration this year.

Aligned with the Alliance for a Better Community, Bill Bouie, Beverly Cosham, Roger Lowen and Smith make up the remaining incumbent board members who now find they represent a minority opposition on the board.