State of the Centre

State of the Centre

Homeowners, politicians, newly elected trustees meet at Burke Centre.

A new board of trustees took on Burke Centre Thursday, March 9 at the neighborhood's annual meeting. Greg Smith, Marc Flaster, Colette Sheldon, Phil Pool, and Joe Berner were all re-elected to one-year terms, while Jimi Grande and Kala Leggett Quintana replaced departing trustees Sam DiBartolo and Luanne Smith in the Landings and Woods positions.

Voter turnout in this year's board of trustees election was 1,211 votes, or 11 percent of the neighborhood's 5,862 households, said Don Even, election board chair. This number was down one percent from last year, he said.

According to Burke Centre Conservancy executive director Patrick Gloyd, Burke Centre's finances are in good shape for the coming year.

"We're in good fiscal health," he said. The Conservancy has outsourced Burke Centre's landscaping services for a $250,000 savings in labor, and has trimmed Conservancy staff positions from 37 to 21. The streamlining, said Gloyd, has caused a surplus of about $86,000.

Two years ago, the Conservancy struggled with a shortfall of about $710,000, attributed to cleanup and overtime caused by Hurricane Isabel's storms in 2003. The reserve fund for emergency situations also came up short, causing assessment fees to go up $25 for the final three quarters of 2004. Citing a need to make sure 2004's shortfall did not happen again, the Board of Trustees raised the assessments again in late 2005, from $100 to $118 per quarter.

"Maybe next cycle, the board will look at keeping assessments flat, or even reducing them," said Gloyd.

MANY HOMEOWNERS at Thursday's meeting were concerned about property assessment costs, which rose nearly 25 percent from last year in the Burke area, from a mean of $373,902 to a mean of $464,126.

"I know that for everybody who got theirs, it was quite an eye-opener," said Quintana.

Property assessments are slightly lower than the actual selling price, because they are assigned relative to other properties in the area in a long process that in some cases began over a year ago, said Supervisor Sharon Bulova (D-Braddock). Right now, she said, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is working on the Fairfax County budget and taking these assessments into account.

"Now it is our job to adopt a budget and adopt a tax rate we think is fair," she said. The highest priority for the Board of Supervisors is education, with 52 percent of the county's revenue going into the Fairfax County Public School system.

"Education is our highest priority, because frankly, it makes everything work," she said.

Bulova also exhorted community members to become involved in making a time capsule to place in the new Burke Centre Library, scheduled for groundbreaking in August. Inspired by a similar project at the Kings Park Library on Burke Lake Road, the Burke Centre Library time capsule will be opened in 2038, she said.

AT THE MEETING, U.S. Rep. Tom Davis (R-11) discussed transportation, a main focus of this year's General Assembly session in Richmond. Several current and future transportation projects are funded by federal dollars, said Davis. Funding for Metrorail to Dulles Airport funding is 50 percent federal, 25 percent state and 25 percent local.

Resident Kevin Morse wondered if the federal funding would remain if Metrorail were replaced by something else such as light rail. If that happened, said Davis, the same funding would apply.

Northern Virginia is better off asking the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates to raise its own money for transportation than expecting the state to raise the money and return a sufficient amount of it to Northern Virginia, said Davis. Davis said he supports the Senate transportation plan, which would use new funding sources such as vehicle title taxes or registration fees to raise $4 billion for transportation over the next four years.

"I've lived [in Northern Virginia] all my life. I'm so frustrated driving around this place," he said. "Quite frankly, I'd pay a little more for them to fix it."