Friday, September 22, 2006

Greed At Port LaBelle CCD?

Development District Proposing 53% Budget Increase and 75% tax increase

PORT LABELLE, FLORIDA --  At the Port LaBelle Community Development District's next public meeting on Monday September 25, the board will be asked to adopt a new budget that is 53% higher than last year at a cost to property owners of an ad valorem tax rate of 1.7871 mills or a little less than one-fifth of a percent of assessed property value for each parcel. Included in the budget are expenses of $265.300 for administration and $390,200 for the road department. The total expenses in the new budget total $843,400.

Ralph Nicholson, who oversees the Development District Office as well as the Barron Water Control District explained that the opportunity to gain extra funds for road repairs and other benefits came at an opportune time as tax assessment values skyrocketed this year on Port LaBelle property. Nicolson said new this year will be $100,000 to be spent for Hendry and Glades county deputies to patrol the area. Builders have complained recently about thefts at their building sites and more patrols should cut down on criminal activity at their building sites. Hendry county's Sheriff will receive $68,000 while Glades county Sheriff get $38,000 for patrols of the area north of State Road 80.

Other costs from the administration budget beside the Sheriff's patrols will be a fee of 6% to the Glades property appraiser and tax collector for their service, while Hendry county's appraiser and tax collector get a 3% fee.  Nicholson says his salary doesn't get paid from the CCD directly, but is paid by the Barron Water District. The CCD pays $50,000 to  the Barron District though. An administrative assistant has a $32,000 salary. Fees for attorney services are $8,000 and an accountant's yearly audit costs $9,000.

Last year's tax levy for the district was $433,324 but because of huge tax assessment increases to property owners, as much as 300% higher than last year. Nicholson is asking for a property tax levy income this year of a proposed $759,904 or 75% higher than last year. 

Only a dozen or so taxpayers attended the last public meeting including a representative of CHL, Inc. who owns a majority of the vacant lots in Port LaBelle. CHL has been lately waging a battle with government officials and the tax assessor over the huge tax liabilities imposed this year by county government and local boards like the Community Development District. CHL filed over 1100 petitions to the Value Assessment Board at the courthouse this week to try to lower their tax assessments.

The Monday public meeting where the budget and millage rate will be decided is at 5:30 pm. at the CCD office at 3293 Dellwood Terrace in Port LaBelle, north of the Port LaBelle waste treatment plant.

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