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CDD Begins Discussing Budget Wish Lists

During their April 2 meeting, Westchase Community Development District (CDD) supervisors discussed items they would like to see included in their upcoming 2014 budget, beginning Oct. 1.

Manager Andrew Mendenhall informed the group that they must adopt a preliminary, high-water mark budget at their May meeting. That preliminary budget’s assessments will then be submitted to Hillsborough County for inclusion in property tax trim notices this fall. When the final CDD budget is approved in mid-summer, its assessments may come in below the trim notice budget’s projections but may not exceed them.

Supervisor Brian Ross had many suggestions of improvements he would like to see included in the 2014 budget. “First, if we are going to move forward with the installation of a fountain in one of the West Park Village lakes, we should make sure we do it top notch. Second, we should enhance our holiday decorations and replace worn out or broken decorations.”

Ross also asked supervisors to consider updating or improving signage (both entry and announcement banners), improving the West Park Village band shell, resolving the dog park issue, and increasing staff salaries. “The CDD staff has done remarkable work over the past year. In one instance they saved us over $100,000 due to their diligence.” 

Chair Mark Ragusa asked that every line item with an increase in the budget include an explanation of why the increase is needed. Supervisors will discuss and finalize the preliminary budget for trim notices at the May meeting.

At the session supervisors had a lot to say about the growing number of event banners placed on the Linebaugh Avenue medians. Some supervisors felt the banners exemplified the vibrancy of our community by showing all the activities going on. Others were concerned that some of the worn-out banners did not present the best first image of the Westchase community and were in some cases hard to read.  Ross said he would vote against any new banners going up until the issue was resolved. While Chair Mark Ragusa said he had received one complaint about the banners, CDD Field Manager Doug Mays said they had not received any complaints. Supervisors asked CDD staff to look into the potential cost and location of a permanent LED/digital sign that could be used to promote events. In the meantime they voted 4-1, with Ross casting the dissenting vote, to allow CDD staff to place banners at their discretion.

In other actions:

Supervisors considered a proposal for updating and improving the spray area in West Park Village. Staff will explore one contractor who believes the existing pump and piping can be successfully used in an effort to reduce the project’s costs.

Supervisors approved a request to put the street-lighting project in Harbor Links/The Estates out for new bids. Once the CDD has received the lowest qualified bids, they will present the options to that neighborhood’s representatives.

Supervisors approved a county request to grant an easement on CDD-owned land adjacent to the upcoming four-lane expansion of Linebaugh Avenue between Countryway Boulevard and Race Track Road. The county stated it needs the easement to construct a sidewalk along the widened road in a way that will protect existing trees.

Supervisors also agreed to spend up to $5,000 in legal fees to protect and renew the Westchase trademark.

Supervisors declined a request from Challenger Sports, a for-profit company, to run a soccer camp in conjunction with Westchase Soccer this summer because CDD-owned facilities cannot be used for for-profit endeavors.

By Marcy Sanford

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