Read RA's Lips: No New Tax (District), Yet

Read RA's Lips: No New Tax (District), Yet

RA committee passes on governance issues.

A plan that would have dramatically altered the Reston community and Reston Association (RA) never made it out of an obscure committee last week.

The idea is not a new one, some say it dates back to the early 1980s. "It's an idea that generated steam again a few years ago," said RA executive vice president Gerald Volloy. "Bill Nicoson looked at the impacts on RA, its members, local businesses if RA was to establish a special tax district that in effect would have combined RA and RCC [Reston Community Center]. That would have been the main thrust."

Every so often, the idea of a new special tax district in Reston emerges, said Robert Poppe, at-large director. And during the May 15 meeting of the Special Committee on Governing Documents Review, an ad hoc group charged with looking at ways to modernize RA covenants and documents, the idea emerged again.

But this time the idea was cut off immediately, at least by this committee. "I think they made a good decision," Volloy said. "If you are going to look at governance of RA, I think it is appropriate to look at all cost and benefit analysis."

"It never goes away because governance never goes away," said Susan Jones, the RA president, who led a two-year campaign to incorporate Reston in 1987 and 1988. "We have a problem with Reston because of the way we are structured and the way we are structured doesn't work. It is an overwhelming task."

Jones agreed with the committee's decision to table even considering the idea of a new tax district. "We've got to get these documents under control first, hopefully by this fall," said Jones. "Then if the community decides they want to tackle the issue, then maybe it will be time to look at that again."

Volloy agreed. "Just to get work that this committee has to get through is daunting enough without studying the governance of the organization," Volloy said.

Some plans talked about in the past have called for the tennis and pools currently under RA control to fall under the operation of either RCC or a new small tax district.

During a previous finance meeting, Poppe recommended that his committee "think outside of the box" for new solutions to the "cap" on residential assessments, other than raising the ceiling. Poppe said that the chairman of the committee, Lee Rau, felt the issue should be addressed head on, so "as not to influence our other work on the committee."

After 30 minutes of discussion, the committee agreed that new revenue sources, like a special tax district, were out of the committee's scope.

"It's just the wrong time," said Poppe. "The more I think about it, the less I like it."

Bill Rountree, another member of the group, said the debate needs to occur, but he added that it would not be very "politically astute of the group" to tackle the issue again, given the current economic and political climate. "It was not the right forum or the time."

"This is the penultimate issue that drives everything else," Rountree said, urging his fellow members to kill the measure. "It will create a lot of controversy."

The committee agreed to leave the issue for another group. "We were asked to look at documents," said Mary Ellen Craig, a former RA president. "I really didn't sign up for governance."