The board of commissioners for the Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District is not happy with Lee County.
At its Feb. 27 meeting, the board expressed frustration over having to pay unforeseen costs to the county over the widening of state Road 82. The board did not expect to be required to obtain a development order from Lee County before the project could begin.
AIM Engineering & Surveying has been hired to complete the complicated and expensive process of filing the development order and special exemption applications that the project now requires.
The board of commissioners for the Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District at its meeting last week.
"We had requested Lee County to not make us go through that (development order) process," District Manager David Lindsay told the board. "We've talked to staff. We've talked to a couple commissioners. We actually had (state Rep.) Matt Caldwell talk to a commissioner or two and ask them if they could waive that requirement."
"Well, they didn't," he said.
Lindsay added that other entities, like the Florida Department of Transportation, do not pay the county fees and that Lee County often does not pay similar fees to the LA-MSID when it is supposed to.
The board voted to approve a spending limit of $45,000 for AIM to complete the development order process and to pay the company for the $24,974 of work it has done so far.
Multiple board members expressed their frustration with the fees, claiming that they were an unnecessary waste of taxpayer dollars. Chair Matt Welch pointed out that the SR 82 project benefits a number of government entities and that forcing the LA-MSID to pay fees did not make sense.
"Those fees should be waved," he said. "It doesn't seem exactly proper for us to have to pay that."
Vice-chair David Deetscreek also voiced his dissatisfaction with the situation, explaining that he thought the fees amounted to a double-tax on residents living inside of the district.
"Nothing is going to change. The process basically says, 'Here's our money. Thank you,'" he said. "This is crazy. If the voters of Lehigh saw something like this I think they'd go nuts."
Welch explained that the issue may only become more pressing as the second stage of the SR 82 expansion, and other projects on the horizon, could encounter the same problem. The board members decided to request a workshop with the Lee County Commission in order to discuss the concerns.
In other business, the board voted to approve paying the Ramba Law Group $225 per hour, not to exceed $10,000, for lobbying services during the state legislature's 2017 regular session.
The Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District will hold its next meeting on March 20 at 6 p.m. at the LA-MSID, at 601 East County Lane. The meetings are open to the public.