Groves District Lowers Assessment Rate

The Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District gave preliminary approval to its 2013 budget and assessment rates at a special meeting Tuesday, setting the assessment rate at $135 per acre for properties on unpaved roads.

That assessment rate is $16.45 below the current year’s assessment of $151.45. The total proposed LGWCD budget for 2013 is $1,523,846.

The Loxahatchee Groves Town Council, at its July 17 meeting, formally approved $150,000 to help finance district road maintenance, which allowed the LGWCD to adopt the lower rate, District Administrator Clete Saunier said.

An interlocal agreement will be drafted identical to the 2012 accord that also granted the district $150,000, with appropriate date changes, Saunier added.

Saunier said the council also approved a subsidy suggested by Councilman Jim Rockett to cover a portion of the assessments for the four roads paying for road improvement debt assessments, which would normalize the maximum debt assessment rate to no more than $104.17 per acre. “They approved that, and the total amount came to $28,893,” Saunier said.

The debt assessment rate for North D Road was lowered from $113.61 per acre to $104.17 per acre. The debt assessment rate for South C Road was lowered from $162.70 per acre to $104.17 per acre. The debt assessment rates for North A Road and North C Road remain unchanged, since they are below the normalized rate of $104.17 per acre, Saunier said.

He said that the changes due to the subsidy are still subject to approval by the bank that made the loan, which had informed him that legal fees to review the change would not exceed $1,000.

The debt assessments are to be submitted to the tax collector’s office on July 27 and could be changed to a lower amount but not raised. Saunier suggested the amount reported reflect the rate before the town’s subsidy, adding that they could lower the rate after it is signed off by the bank.

The final certification of the tax roll is done Sept. 12.

Supervisor John Ryan pointed out that the board is still using reserves in order not to raise the assessment and suggested that they find further ways to economize to minimize taking from the reserves.

Supervisor Don Widing said with the OGEM paving, he anticipated a savings in fuel and operating costs for grading and other maintenance of dirt roads.

“I think that’s the expectation of our board, and I think this is the progress we should see,” Widing said.

Supervisor John Ryan made a motion to approve the resolution adopting the proposed budget and assessment roll, and it carried 5-0.

In other business, the board authorized Widing to enter into negotiations for a new contract with Saunier. Widing made the suggestion, saying he did not want to discuss negotiations at a public meeting but would bring a proposed contract back to the board for approval. Widing also passed out suggested incentives for employees for the board’s consideration in lieu of raises.