LAKEWOOOD RANCH — After months of revisions amid frustrations from concerned residents, each of the four Lakewood Ranch Community Development Districts approved its proposed FY2010 budget Sept. 9 during a continuation of the Aug. 20 board meeting.
Last month, the Boards of Supervisors refrained from voting on their respective budgets after more than 100 residents piled into the Lakewood Ranch Town Hall to voice their concerns over escalated budgets and rising assessments in CDDs 2, 4 and 5.
The boards then spent the next few weeks reviewing their budgets, making some minor changes to scale back residential costs.
CDD 1 unanimously approved a proposed budget of $1,575,600 with an annual special assessment amount of $1,475,600, resulting in about a .2% to .5% decrease. CDD 1 Supervisor Gary Berns made a motion to remove the infrastructure line item from the budget, resulting in $19,500 in total savings and decreasing the number of neighborhoods with any type of assessment increase.
CDD 2 voted 4-1, with treasurer Kathleen Grant dissenting, in favor of a proposed budget of $2,435,980 with an annual special assessment amount of $2,092,480, resulting in a decrease of more than 2.1%.
“I can’t vote to approve a budget where I don’t understand the allocation,” Grant said.
Grant questioned the board’s decision to move forward with the budget without understanding the inter-neighborhood allocation cost formula, which is used to determine how assessments are distributed throughout the different neighborhoods, and whether it was properly used.
One of the main causes for concern surrounding the INAC methodology is how it’s applied to Lakewood Ranch’s condominium communities. When the boards began using the methodology in 2000, some of the condominium communities had yet to be established.
So as the budget process continued, the majority of residents living within the four condominium communities experienced rising assessments compared to decreasing assessments for those neighborhoods living within the gates of the Country Club.
“We’ve been in the dark for about 10 years on this INAC methodology,” Boca Grove resident Larry Lovell said. “I would like to be a lot more knowledgeable, so the question to you is who is in charge of the process?
“When this thing started, a 9% increase translated to an 18% increase for Boca Grove,” he said. “Then, a 2% decrease translates into a 2% increase for Boca Grove. That defies common sense.”
Last month, Boca Grove faced a proposed 3.4% increase in assessments — the largest increase in CDD 2. However, after further review, finance director Steve Zielinski noticed a mistake in a line item surrounding Lake Uihlein. As a result, each of the 19 neighborhoods within CDD 2 will see a decrease in its annual assessments.
Additionally, CDD 2 Supervisor Don O’Leary made a motion to reduce the Edgewater gatehouse security line item by $125,000, resulting in a $12,000 savings.
CDD 5 unanimously approved a proposed budget of $1,984,650 with an annual special assessment amount of $1,639,370, resulting in a 2.7% decrease.
“We wanted to do our best to try to reduce costs while still maintaining the level of service that residents expect,” CDD 5 Chairman Dave Brucker said.
Finally, CDD 4 voted unanimously in favor of a proposed budget of $1,600,085 with an annual special assessment amount of $1,557,085, resulting in a 3% increase of $18-31.
Contact Jen Blanco at email@example.com.
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