LAKEWOOD RANCH — More than 100 residents packed Lakewood Ranch Town Hall during the Lakewood Ranch Community Development District Boards of Supervisors’ monthly meetings Aug. 20 to protest escalated budgets and rising assessments for the 2010 fiscal year.
The unexpected outpouring came as a result of a letter that was sent out July 29, informing residents of the budget hearing and reflecting a 10% increase in annual tax assessments in some neighborhoods.
District supervisors eased some residents’ concerns after noting the proposed assessments mailed to residents reflected the boards’ initial June 11 budget. Since then, the boards have continued to tweak and further reduce their budgets.
“All you did was create alarm in the residents,” Sandhills resident Myron Godley said. “By correcting it now … it carries with it the perception if you would that your minds are made up. I suggest in the future you do a better job.”
However, several residents still questioned the boards’ decision-making during a tough economy. Larry Lovell, a member of the Boca Grove Board of Directors, spoke on behalf of 120 condominium owners who will see an increase of 3.4% in their annual assessments as a result of the CDD 2 budget — the largest increase within the district.
“Boca Grove and Miramar pay a disproportionate share, based on benefit, for the costly upgrade, maintenance and decoration of the Legacy Boulevard gateway to the 12 single-family neighborhoods in CDD 2 and the numerous other neighborhoods in the Country Club,” Lovell said.
Miramar resident Tony Olender echoed Lovell’s sentiments.
“We are allocated exactly the same way as other neighborhoods,” he said. “What we’re trying to do as a community is to equate the fairness — that’s all we’re asking you to do.”
Although considered a part of CDD 2, the Boca Grove and Miramar Condominiums are unique because they own, operate and maintain their own gates. The neighborhoods also maintain their own roads and common areas and have their own landscaping contract.
“I appreciate your willingness to do this for 2011, but why not now?” Olender added. “I assume in the budget there’s money (allotted) for certain (projects) like holiday decorations, roads, community landscape, sign maintenance, replanting of annuals and pond maintenance. (Allowing) us those same benefits — that would be a first step. At least then we would all be consistent.”
Overall, CDD 2 saw a decline in assessments of a little more than 2% from a year ago. District 5, which represents the remainder of the Country Club, saw the largest reduction of all the districts with its budgetary assessments down nearly 3% from a year ago.
“Since June we’ve been working diligently to (trim) the budget while still maintaining the quality of services and standards that residents expect,” CDD 5 Chairman Dave Brucker said.
After trimming its budget, CDD 1 will see an increase in its assessments by nine-tenths of a percent with an estimated projection of $1.495 million in assessments.
CDD 4 showed the largest increase in assessments of all of the districts at 3%.
After listening to resident complaints, each of the CDD boards voted to continue their respective meetings to 9 a.m., Sept. 9, at Town Hall during which time the boards will take a final vote on the 2010 budget.
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IN OTHER CDD NEWS
• The Inter-District Authority approved a motion to accept Operations Director Ryan Heise’s recommendation to enter into a contract with Alert Protective Services after a competitive security proposals bidding process.
• Each of the four CDD Boards of Supervisors approved a motion to adjust their meeting schedule for fiscal year 2010. The June meeting was moved from June 17 to June 10 and the A&I meeting will be moved from June 15 to June 8 to meet the state’s June 15 budget requirement.
• Maintenance to the lake bank of Lake Uihlein was scheduled to begin Aug. 24 and should not take more than two weeks to complete.