Center Construction On Target; Expanding Scope Possible
Sachs gave an update during the meeting on the construction for the center’s renovation, which he said is on schedule to reopen on Oct. 1, 2018. The MCC is expected to resume normal operations by Jan. 1, 2019. This is because the MCC will continue to use the temporary locations through December 2018.
The McLean Community Center’s 11-member Governing Board held a public hearing about the center’s proposed fiscal year 2019 budget on Wednesday evening, Sept. 27, from its temporary location in the McLean Square Shopping Center.
The fiscal year, which runs from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019, is projected to yield a budget surplus while construction is finished on the renovation of the center. The proposed budget projects $5.7 million in revenue and $5.6 million in expenses, resulting in a projected surplus of $102,069. This is in comparison to a projected $133,934 surplus for the current fiscal year 2018 budget.
“When we started, we had sort of a shortfall and we went back and looked at it and we made adjustments to real estate taxes, to personnel, to expenses; and then we came up with a surplus of $102,000,” Ashok Karra, comptroller for the MCC, said during the meeting.
This would be accomplished without changing the tax rate for the Small District One A-Dranesville, which supports the center by taxing homeowners 2.3 cents per $100 of assessed property value.
“Our recommendation right now is we don’t increase the tax rate,” Karra said.
Out of the special tax district’s nearly $20 billion base of assessed property value, revenue from taxes during fiscal year 2019 are projected to bring in 80 percent of the budget at $4.6 million, while program, rental and interest revenues will comprise 20 percent of the budget.
One reason for the budget surplus is that there are no expenses associated with the renovation of the center or other capital projects proposed in fiscal year 2019, according to Karra.
“That is the biggest part of our expenses,” he said.
All renovation and capital project expenses for the new center were expensed in the fiscal year 2018 budget: $6,975,484 for the renovation and $86,365 for other projects.
“In FY ’18, we’re going to spend all the money for the renovation,” Karra said. “If we don’t spend it, we carry it over to FY ’19,” he added.
To soften the brunt of the costs to operate the center’s programs and classes from temporary locations — the Langley Shopping Center for dance programs, the McLean Square Shopping Center for classes and administrative offices and the Lewinsville Park House for special events and performing arts administration offices — expenses were spread out between multiple fiscal years: $142,365 in 2017; $439,897 in 2018; and $211,283 proposed in 2019.
Staff members found a way to create a small revenue stream out of the burden.
“When classes are obviously not having or conducting classes, we are putting it out for rentals,” MCC Executive Director George Sachs said during the meeting.
There are five meeting rooms of various sizes available to rent from the MCC at the McLean Square Shopping Center; one at the center’s temporary administrative offices at 6631 Old Dominion Drive and four at its temporary program space at 6645 Old Dominion Drive.
They are available when classes or governing board meetings are not occurring from Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Interested individuals can fill out a “Preliminary Booking Form” to inquire about renting a meeting room online at www.mcleancenter.org/rentals.
The proposed budget projects $62,425 in revenue from the rentals.
There are no proposals to change staffing levels for the center. Sachs initially proposed to add one new full-time position to support the center’s Public Information Office.
“In order to help balance our FY 2019 operating budget, it was decided to defer the addition of this new position to the next fiscal year, FY 2020,” Sachs said via email. “This proposed option saved us about $60,000 in our overall operating budget for FY 2019.”
Recounting Ballots for MCC Elections
During the meeting, board members voted to approve an update to the MCC Governing Board’s contract with the League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area, which facilitates and monitors the ballots for the board’s election of members.
McLean Community Center Governing Board Member Jennifer Rossman spoke out about the ballots for the 2017-2018 governing board election ending up in the custody of just one individual from the LWVFA when they needed to be thoroughly recounted because one of the open seats was too close to call.
“That person solely, in their personal home, recounted the ballots without witness,” Rossman said during the meeting.
During the election on Saturday, May 20, at the McLean Day 2017 festival at Lewinsville Park, candidate Raj Mehra received 200 votes, while Elizabeth John received 201 to win, according to Merilee Pierce, who was the MCC Governing Board Elections and Nominations Committee Chair at the time.
The current contract did not state a procedure for breaking a tie or recounting.
“I assume we have something in there about more than one person counting the ballots the night of the election,” Rossman said. “It may be worth restating that, if there is a recount, there needs to be more than one person in the room with the ballots,” she added.
The changes to the contract the governing board approved state that a recount is required when three votes or less separate the third and fourth adult candidates after completion of counting the ballots. For the teen election, a recount is required when three votes or less separate the first and second teen candidates after completion of counting the ballots.
The governing board also approved to change the contract to state that there should be at least two LWVFA representatives and one MCC representative — designated by the MCC Governing Board Elections and Nominations Committee Chair — present during any count or recount of the ballots.
The governing board also approved to change the contract to state that if it is too late in the evening and more productive to conduct a recount the following day, the LWVFA will need to secure the ballots at the MCC.