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Hudgins, RCC Board Support Boundary Changes

Non-Reston residents may soon be out of Small Tax District 5.

For hundreds of non-Reston residents disgruntled about paying taxes each year to support the Reston Community Center, an end may soon be in sight.

Efforts to redraw the borders for Small Tax District 5, which funds the RCC, made large strides recently when Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) and RCC’s Board of Governors moved to shrink the borders.

At a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting on Feb. 27, Hudgins issued a motion, which was subsequently passed by the board, to direct county staff to prepare a proposed ordinance change to redraw the tax district boundaries. The change includes options to contract the borders to contain properties in the Hunter Mill district or an even greater reduction that would align the district’s borders to the Reston Master Plan.

The proposed ordinance will be advertised on March 13. A public hearing will be held March 27 at the Fairfax County Government Center. Barring any unforeseen issues, the board is expected to make a decision on the boundaries after the hearing, said Hudgins.

THE TAX DISTRICT’S current borders include small portions of the Dranesville and Sully districts. Supervisors of those districts, Joan DuBois (R-Dranesville) and Michael Frey (D-Sully), support a change that eliminates their constituents from Small Tax District 5.

“A very high percentage of people who live outside of Reston feel they don’t belong in the district,” said Hudgins, explaining why she made the motion.

Hudgins made her motion a week before the RCC board planned to recommend a border change based on the comments they heard at two public hearings last month.

Hudgins explained that she had to act quickly to incorporate any proposed change into the fiscal year 2007 budget, which begins July 1. “I would have waited until I had heard from [the RCC board], but we’re in our [2007] budget cycle now,” said Hudgins.

Tax district residents currently pay 5.2 cents per $100 assessed property value, in addition to their county property taxes.

The Small Tax District 5, which was originally drawn in 1975, encompasses all of Reston and about 1,400 properties outside of Reston, including homes with Vienna, Herndon and Oakton addresses. About 300 Reston homes are outside of the tax district.

REDRAWING THE BORDERS gained momentum last month when the RCC held its public hearings to gauge community attitudes on RCC funding.

The group of taxpayers who live outside of Reston came out in force in opposition of the tax. They said they wanted out of the tax district. Reston residents generally said they wanted to keep local control of the community center and were willing to pay for it.

In response to the hearings, the RCC board, which met Monday, March 6, voted unanimously to remove Vienna, Oakton and Oak Hill/Herndon neighborhoods from the tax district. The resolution is being sent to Hudgins for consideration.

Residents of non-Reston neighborhoods who attended the March 6 meeting applauded RCC’s action.

“Well, this is good news,” said Penny Prime, who lives in Vienna but within the tax district.

“We’re already thinking about the money we’re going to save,” said Marion C. Davis, a Vienna resident who has long paid taxes to support RCC.

A BOUNDARY CHANGE that would remove Vienna, Oakton and Oak Hill/Herndon residents has interesting ramifications for the composition of the board. With borders that exclude non-Reston residents, three RCC board members — Kevin Deasy, George Lawton and Peter von zur Muehlen, who all live outside of Reston — would be forced to resign from the board at the end of the year. But, they said they support that scenario because it is what non-Reston residents in the tax district want.

“Every honest politician should be able to forfeit his position when things turn out right,” said Von zur Muehlen.

Since last October when the three non-Reston residents were elected, they have aligned with fiscal conservatives Mary Buff and the board’s Chair Joe Lombardo, forming a majority voting block on the nine-member RCC board.