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LA-MSID approves budget, assessment

August 28, 2019
By MELISSA?BILL (news@breezenewspapers.com) , Lehigh Acres Citizen

The Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District approved its budget for fiscal year 2019-2020 at its recent special meeting, along with an increase of non-ad valorem assessments, and adoption of an assessment roll.

On Aug. 19, the municipal district commissioners voted 4-0 on a Resolution #2019-05 to adopt a fiscal Year 2019-2020 budget revenue of $7,129,363, with non-ad valorem assessments - Lee totaling $5,546,700.

Early in the meeting, the board discussed an estimated fund balance of $7,789,772.

According to District Manager David Lindsay, an increase in the fund balance was due mainly to grant funds and $714,608, which came from infrastructure construction projects.

Commissioner Michael Welch asked to clarify to the public as to the origination of those funds.

"Those monies are coming in part due to negotiations we made with the Florida Department of Transportation and other entities on our work along State Road 82, correct?" Welch asked.

According to Lindsay, the total funds coming from FDOT will total $7,160,000.

"In total, we will see about a $22 million gain on our side for infrastructure," Lindsay added.

"So the surplus that we receive from the State of Florida is going into capital projects so that we don't have to further raise assessments on people," Welch said.

The district's accounting department also went over two budget drivers, one being a newly created bridge fund, which will be held separately and collect interest.

'The bridges were built under our statutory authority and they are getting older in years. So we elected to make sure we have funds in case they need repair or one happens to fail. The most important thing when a bridge fails is that you get it taken care of in as short of time as possible. That's what this fund will assure," Lindsay said.

During the public hearing portion of the budget adoption, residents voiced their dismay over the assessment fee hike and asked where these funds were to be used.

"I'm a disabled veteran on a fixed income. I can't just go out and work an extra Saturday to cover this kind of increase. I believe it's wrong to tell me I owe money for bridges I don't use, but the school board on the other hand is exempt," said resident James Kennedy.

Other public comments included questions about the $800,000 surplus and the extra revenue coming into the district from a greater influx of new residents.

Commissioner Welch reiterated that the bridges fall under the sole responsibility of the municipal district and that Lee County would not be there to rescue Lehigh if one failed.

"People don't realize that a small bridge could cost between $800,000 and $1 million each," Welch said. "The money in the bridge fund will be kept solely for the purpose of repairing or rebuilding district bridges."

Board members also unanimously voted to adopt Resolution 2019-06 to impose an increase in non-ad valorem assessments. The increase was broken down by parcel size: 70.40 percent of parcels will see an increase between 0 - $3; 26.25 percent an increase $3.10 - $6; 1.83 percent an increase $6.10 - $12, and 1.52 percent an increase of $12.10 and up.

The approved budget outlines the district's total FY 2019-20 budget revenue $7,129,363, district expenditures total $6,518,876, consisting of about 4.5 million on general, $917,450 on debt service, $618,147 on capital equipment, $410,000 on infrastructure construction projects and $43,000 towards bridge renewal and replacement.

This year's unassigned balance totaled $2,691,233. Other monies from revenue were $285,000 allocated towards the district's bridge repair fund.

The Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District will hold its next meeting on Sept. 16 at 6 p.m. at the LA-MSID, at 601 East County Lane. For information, visit LA-MSID at www.myecwcd.net.

 
 

 

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