LAKEWOOD RANCH — The Lakewood Ranch Inter-District Authority has been setting aside money in reserves — or savings — for years, in anticipation of repairs and improvements to its facilities and systems.
In approving its preliminary $3.3 million 2015 fiscal year budget Thursday, May 15, the IDA finally authorized Lakewood Ranch Town Hall finance staff to dip into those reserves, a spending strategy that is likely to continue over the next few years.
The 2015 fiscal year budget, which the board still must vote to adopt at a July 17 public hearing, appropriates 5.4% more in total expenses than last year’s, requiring the spending of $100,000 in reserves.
Total revenues in the budget increased 5.6% from last year, to $3.2 million, caused primarily by pass-through costs associated with the Balmoral gate.
“All of the increase in costs is either due to infrastructure improvements or district-wide community connectivity issues,” said Tom Green, IDA chairman. “We need to do these things to keep the value of our assets up to snuff. We can’t let this building (Lakewood Ranch Town Hall) or this community deteriorate.”
The largest increase in expenses — 3.1% — is a result of an interlocal agreement CDDs 2, 5 and 6 approved in March regarding cost sharing the operation of the gates at Balmoral Woods and Legacy boulevards.
But that is a technicality, because in previous IDA budgets, CDD 6’s gate expenses were not included as a line item.
CDD 6 will actually save $48,400 annually from the agreement.
Steve Zielinski, Town Hall’s chief financial officer who prepared the budget, attributes 2% of the increased expenses to improving access to gatehouses and facilities within IDA-owned parks.
Town Hall also will receive improvements to its swipe-card access system.
Other expenses include repairs, carpet replacement and interior painting at Town Hall.
“When you look at something like carpet replacement at Town Hall — well, it’s been 10 years since this was done,” Green said.
“In coming years we are looking for what kind of upgrades we need in infrastructure. There will probably be a major project every year until we feel we have upgraded to where we need to be.”
• Town Hall will be closed May 26 for Memorial Day.
• Vanessa Baugh, District 5 Manatee County commissioner, will hold a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. June 4, at Town Hall, 8175 Lakewood Ranch Blvd. Topics of discussion will include traffic at Interstate 75 and University Parkway and health care.
• Ryan Heise, town hall operations director, launched a video blog to inform residents about Lakewood Ranch operations. Heise and staff shot the first video about irrigation May 15. The videos will be viewable on Town Hall’s website, lakewoodranchgov.org and through its YouTube and Facebook pages.
• Town Hall is beginning a performance review of U.S. Security Associates, the company that handles security at CDD gates. A Town Hall staff member will observe the gate guards once per week, ensuring they are following security protocol. Staff will also study video footage.
• The district had 3,304 registered voters as of May 1.
• The district had 2,406 registered voters.
• CDD 2 will have a budget workshop at 3 p.m. May 22, at Lakewood Ranch Town Hall.
•The district had 2,866 registered voters.
• The district had 1,606 registered voters.
• CDD 5 will have a budget workshop at 10:30 a.m. May 22, at Town Hall.
CDDs 2 and 5:
• CDDs 2 and 5 approved a maximum increase of $8,500 for repairs to the Legacy Boulevard gatehouse. The change order in the districts’ contract with Prism Contractors Inc. reflected extra water damage found during the repair process, which began April 14. Prism also requested that it use architectural foam, a more expensive material, to pad the gatehouse windows. The districts will split the extra cost. Originally, repairs cost $36,000 between the two districts.
• Wilmington Land Co., a subsidiary of Neal Communities, will pay $31,000 for roadway repairs in the Thornhill and Edenmore communities in the Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club. The district asked Neal, which developed nearby homes, to pay for manhole repairs before it applies a second layer of asphalt to the road.
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