LAKEWOOD RANCH — Lakewood Ranch Community Development District supervisors are hoping to pave the way for a smoother budgeting process for 2010.
Supervisors on Dec. 17 approved a plan that would have the 2011 budget nearly finalized by June — a move they hope will cause less confusion for residents should the county mail Truth in Millage notices late again.
The adopted budget process sets target dates for data requirements and provides a timeframe for allowing input from districts and their constituents while providing staff with guidance for determining budget categories and other specifications.
“We’re accelerating some of the dates to have workshops,” the Inter-District Authority’s Director of Finance Steve Zielinski said, noting budget proposals and special requests are due about a month earlier than in previous years.
Town Hall officials hope the changes will allow CDD budgets to be nearly finalized when TRIM notices are mailed in the summer. That way, if Manatee sends them late again, the information will be as current as possible.
The problem is one Town Hall officials have encountered the last two years, Zielinski said. For the 2010 budget, for example, residents in several Lakewood Ranch communities came to an August CDD meeting to protest fees proposed in a letter dated July 29. Some residents felt the assessments were too high but most were satisfied at the meeting once they learned the budget already had been tweaked and assessments lowered.
“(The information) was almost outdated by the time residents got it,” Zielinski said. “(This effort) all evolved around this issue. We were trying to eliminate those (problems).”
Meetings for community budget committee representatives and residents in each CDD will be held in early January at Lakewood Ranch Town Hall. There, attendees will learn the process by which to submit budget requests, which will be due to Zielinski by Jan. 22.
Meeting and workshops for the proposed budget will be held through June with final budgets being reviewed in August.
Additionally, this year, the boards will hold public meetings about the proposed budgets outside of their regular monthly CDD meetings. A public hearing for final adoption is slated for Aug. 26, about a week later than in previous years, Zielinksi said.
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IN OTHER NEWS
District officials formally have notified Wackenhut Corp. its services for security in Lakewood Ranch are being terminated and are working to create contracts with the new security providers — Allegiance Security Group for CDDs 1 and 4 and US Security Associates for CDD 5. The new anticipated start date for these companies is Jan. 15.
Additionally, a strategic planning meeting to discuss the role of the IDA has been set for 1 p.m., Jan. 21.
• Engineer Michael Kennedy said he would set up a meeting with Manatee County staff to discuss repairs to potholes along Lakewood Ranch Boulevard. Since the last meeting, the county made temporary repairs to a few locations, but it plans to go back to do permanent repairs in the future. Some requested repairs were not yet made.
• Supervisors and Director of Town Hall Operations Ryan Heise noted the landscape score for landscape contractor Mainscapes had dropped by several percentage points from the previous month, although it still received a passing score. Issues noted included turf fertility and general cleanliness of landscaping. Heise commended the company for its recent re-mulching project, palm pruning efforts and installation of annuals.
• Engineer Michael Kennedy said crews from Sarasota Land Services are continuing to work on repairs to the lake bank and trails that were washed out during flooding at Greenbrook Adventure Park. The trail should be stabilized by Christmas, but the remaining repairs now are expected to be finished by Feb. 1.
• Supervisor Tom Bishop reported the landscaping committee reported the committee plans to put a future emphasis on Florida-friendly landscaping options.
• Residents in Mizner Reserve asked the board to appeal its decision last month not to allow the addition of two streetlights on home sites off Milan Terrace.
Resident Phil Fox said the neighborhood would pay for the lights and their maintenance.
“We feel it is definitely a safety issue,” he said. “That home stretch is incredibly dark.”
Supervisors said they would consider the item further after it was approved by the CEVA modifications board and found that potential legal hurdles could be addressed.
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