Lakewood Ranch CDD assessments headed up

dgraham@bradenton.comJune 14, 2013 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Assessments for every resident living in a Community Development District in Lakewood Ranch will increase in 2014, with the major overall budget impact coming from shared construction of a planned maintenance facility and a 16.7 percent increase in irrigation water rates imposed by Braden River Utilities.

Each district's budget received preliminary approval Thursday. Budgets are subject to final adoption by Sept. 16, with the fiscal year ending Sept. 30.

In their first year with an independent, resident-run governing board, residents of CDD 6, serving Country Club West, can expect a 26 percent assessment increase starting in October. Previously at least some of the board members represented the developer.

Than means a homeowner in District 6 that paid $1,300 in fees this year will pay about $1,547 in 2014. Assessments are based on frontage, which, according to Supervisor Richard Williams, average 50 feet in District 6.

The boost is the highest of all neighboring districts.

The District 6 budget last year increased 19 percent, and the board still had to draw from surplus funds to cover expenses. As a result, District 6 must raise reserves 6.2 percent in 2014, upping homeowner assessments 26 percent.

Road and street facilities costs also went up 7.5 percent, making the District 6 budget $867,840 for fiscal year 2014.

District 5, serving Country Club, managed to decrease its budget 5 percent. There's no good news for taxpayers, however, since it still has to raise homeowner assessments 8.7 percent to make up for money drawn from reserves. The total 2014 budget is $2.289 million.

"It's not unusual to utilize either prior year's surplus or reserves in the upcoming fiscal year," said Eva Rey, executive director. "District 5 is an unusual situation with their storm drain repair."

The board is also settling a legal matter and still repairing its storm drains.

"They want to keep the reserves intact," Rey said.

District 2, serving Country Club and Edgewater, increased its budget 8.7 percent, which means homeowners will pay 9.6 percent more in assessments due to overall reductions in reserve usage. The 2014 budget is $2.872 million.

Adding to its reserves this year, District 4 will raise its assessments 7.8 percent for a 2014 budget of $1.844 million.

The budget for District 1, serving Summerfield and Riverwalk, will rise 6.8 percent in 2014, which means a 4.9 percent assessment increase for residents with an overall budget of $1.8 million.

The District 4 budget increased 7.6 percent with an assessment increase of 7.8 percent. District 4's total budget $1.844 million.

"The TRIM notices always include both the 1.5 percent for the county tax appraiser's office, 1.5 percent administrative fee for the county tax collectors office and 4 percent discounts," said Steve Zielinski, chief financial officer.

Because assessments are going up, Lakewood Ranch will mail notices to each resident with a schedule of assessments, said attorney Andy Cohen.

"Also, there's an ad that's placed in the paper, which is an expanded ad from your usual budget ad, which has a map and things along those lines. There's a process that we're required to follow since assessments are proposed to go up," Cohen said.

Dee Graham, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7024, or tweet@ DeeGrahamBH.

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