Improved finances, new perspectives improve Balmoral gate house outlook

dgraham@bradenton.comApril 25, 2013 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- The prospects of improved revenue combined with a fresh proposal from supervisor James Hill Wednesday to give Community Development District 6, serving Country Club West, new options for its plan to close Balmoral Gate at Lakewood Ranch Boulevard.

Hill compared the situation to the difference between an on-off light switch or a sliding dimmer switch that allows for adjustments.

"It will transition more smoothly at both Balmoral and Legacy gate if we, indeed, decide to close Balmoral," Hill said. "This transition from 16 hours a day to zero hours a day during the third quarter" might go easier if the gate were to be open eight hours a day for an interim period.

"Maybe we ought to consider, for other reasons, ramping it down," Hill said. "We can discuss it more at the May 13 meeting. Maybe we ought to shut it down for a month to see how we handle it."

"Whatever we do, we're going to have to, in advance of whatever changes we make, alert the public. I think it's important to rank in order what our goals are," said supervisor Robert Burstein, who cited wear and tear on the road plus traffic safety and noise as top priorities for closing the gate.

"You can't do one or the other. There might have to be some kind of a mixture. If we know what the goals are, that might help us to a better solution," Burstein said.

Hill said his personal focus in listening to people in the community are noise and road safety.

"I think the financial issues are third in the pecking order as I rate the financial affluence of our community," Hill said. "It would be nice if we save money, but if we have to spend a little

money I wouldn't have a problem."

All issues will cost money to resolve, chief financial director Steve Zielinski said.

"Wear and tear, you're looking at long-term costs," Zielinski said. "Safety is a major concern to the district. That could have some financial concern as far as liability. Just connect the dots."

Zieliniski gave the board good news about a $50,000 budget reduction of that would have gone to storm drains. Also, a $17,320 developer contribution to the debt service fund and an estimated $27,300 reduction in landscape expenses improved the financial picture so their "fiscal position is not a concern" right now.

"I've addressed some of those issues," Zieliniski said. "There was a particular amount of money that I needed to confirm that was part of the debt service fund. It was a developer contribution that I did confirm with Neal Communities. That was $17,300 that I knew I was going to be reduce that by.

"So as a combination of making those two reductions, by a projection of 2013 you are now sitting pretty much at a break-even as far as your appropriations side. If revenues come in, there is a potential that you could make a surplus this year. We still need to monitor this, but I'm not as overly concerned as I was a month ago."

Dee Graham, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7027 or tweet @DeeGrahamBH

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