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Westchase CDD Finalizes 2014 Budget and Homeowner Assessments

The public forum to discuss the Westchase Community Development District’s (CDD) 2014 budget drew a single, silent resident on Tuesday, Aug. 6.

With the forum for public comment opening and closing in a span of a single minute, supervisors made relatively quick work of finalizing the upcoming year’s spending plan, which they have parsed over recent months. Their new fiscal year begins in October.

At the session supervisors made a single significant adjustment to their spending plan. After two months of discussing the appropriate amount to budget for capital improvements, supervisors lowered the proposed $100,000 amount to $60,000.

While some supervisors briefly argued for zeroing out the line given that no specific projects have been identified for 2014, an argument that some funds should be budgeted in case the board identifies land for purchase appeared to win the day. This led to compromise, resulting in the $60,000 figure.

With supervisors citing a significant CDD fund balance in Saville Rowe’s account, homeowners there will also see their neighborhood-specific assessment, covering gates, roads and streetlights in that neighborhood, zeroed out for 2014, lowering the roughly $30,000 surplus by about $10,000. That local assessment may return in subsequent years.

Supervisors ultimately voted unanimously to approve the district’s $4.1 million budget and its assessments on Westchase homeowners and businesses. The reduction in capital spending meant that the Operations and Maintenance portion of homeowners’ assessments fell roughly seven dollars to an estimated $395 from amounts published in July’s and August’s WOWs.

Final total assessments for most homeowners east of Radcliffe will thus increase by just under four percent. Homeowners in the western villages (Radcliffe and all villages with a Countryway Boulevard access) will see additional increases averaging $60 per home because the district is recouping an incorrect debt service credit it extended this past year.

Closing major action, supervisors gave tentative approval to a new policy regarding homeowners’ installation of pavers on driveways and sidewalks within gated communities. In most gated communities the district owns the sidewalks and right-of-way, which include most driveway aprons. Under the policy, homeowners who opt for pavers will have to sign an agreement, which will transfer along with the property, requiring homeowners to maintain the paver areas and replace them at homeowner expense if the district has to remove them for other maintenance.

In other actions:

Supervisors gave unanimous approval to a motion enforcing the provisions of a July 25 certified letter the CDD attorney has sent to a Glenfield homeowner. That homeowner has refused to remove landscaping incorrectly planted on district-owned land surrounding a pond in the rear of her home. The landscaping potentially interferes with CDD maintenance of the pond bank. Staff and neighbors have stated the area has also become an eyesore. CDD Attorney Erin McCormick stated the homeowner has arranged for an attorney to represent her to contest the matter. Supervisors, however, ordered Field Supervisor Doug Mays to remove the plantings from the district’s land if the homeowner fails to do it in the required time period. Supervisors have also directed she be billed for the work.

Supervisors requested that CDD Manager Andy Mendenhall present them with a plan of appropriate safety training for CDD staff members.

For the second month CDD supervisors requested staff members obtain clear proposals and pricing for renovating the existing splash fountain adjacent to the band shell in West Park Village.

Supervisors approved their meeting schedule for the new fiscal year beginning in October. With some exceptions, CDD meetings are held the first Tuesdays of the month at the WCA office building on Parley Drive in West Park Village.

Supervisors unanimously approved an agreement with Hillsborough County governing the district’s installation and maintenance of storm drain filtration baskets.

Given a disagreement between two Castleford homeowners regarding the installation of a fence on a adjacent pond to prevent individuals from using district-owned land as a shortcut through one of the homeowner’s yards, supervisors rescinded their permission to the one homeowner to erect the barrier at his expense. Supervisors directed staff to bring them greater information about the matter.

Supervisors instructed Field Manager Doug Mays to address a resident’s request for the replacement of several street trees in Bennington at his discretion. Mays expressed reluctance to replace them with trees that could potentially raise adjacent sidewalks as they mature. While Hillsborough County owns most sidewalks and the grassy areas between sidewalks and streets outside of Westchase’s gated communities, the district has traditionally handled the trimming and replacement of street trees to ensure a consistent community appearance.

Supervisors approved the expenditure of roughly $3,200 for the replacement of one of the shade canopies at Baybridge Park.

Supervisors adjourned at 6 p.m.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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