Inter-District Authority board members in Lakewood Ranch said on Nov. 29 they need to refocus their efforts to keep their communities as viable alternatives to those looking to buy in the many new neighborhoods of the region.
That includes spending more money for upgrades when necessary.
The topic was discussed at a Nov. 29 IDA workshop at Lakewood Ranch Town Hall.
The IDA, which has a board made up of select CDD board members, can only suggest courses of action for CDDs to take.
It was noted that many of the original villages in Lakewood Ranch were built 20 years ago or more so the landscape must be kept pristine.
Part of accomplishing that task involves raising salaries of operations workers.
The IDA board reached a consensus to suggest raising operations’ worker salaries by 4.4%.
“(CDD residents) are all going to have to be ready to pay more,” Vice Chair Nancy Johnson said. “Lakewood Ranch residents want a high level of service. If we keep losing people in operations, the beds are going to get messy.”
Treasurer Alan Silverglat pushed for an approach to evolving the community.
“You need to have a vision and a focus that makes you better than you are today, not just maintain where we are, and I feel our focus is on maintaining, not moving forward,” Silverglat said.
CEO Steve Zielinski said the districts are making improvements and it remains to be addressed whether communities would buy into the idea of increasing fees for continued improvements. However, he said at the board level that he would consider it.
“I will promote that, certainly encourage it,” Zielinski said. “But again, it’s the appetite of each (CDD) board.”
CDD1 Chairperson Alan Roth, who oversees the Summerfield and Riverwalk areas, and CDD4 Chairperson Michael Griffin, who oversees Greenbrook, said their focus is on maintaining the levels of service.
Roth said he does not see it as especially likely that plans will grow in ambition this year.
“It’s just not a good year for that,” Roth said.
He said the district is constricted by increased costs for services including salaries, as well as landscaping costs that have nearly doubled.
He said the community always tries to stay “reasonably close” to the previous year’s assessments, which he said he expects to be slightly higher this year with robust reserves helping to cover costs.
Griffin said CDD4 was similarly focused on maintaining quality rather than surpassing it.
“We don’t have any grand ambitions, we don’t have any major plans for projects. We can’t let the community go backward,” he said.