Indian Trail Improvement District Gets Good Grade From Auditor

The Indian Trail Improvement District is in good financial shape in terms of revenue and administration, according to the annual audit conducted by the firm Grau & Associates.

The annual audit was presented to the ITID Board of Supervisors by accountant Racquel McIntosh on Wednesday, April 21.

According to the report, “At the end of the fiscal year [Sept. 30, 2020], the district is able to report a positive balance in net position for all governmental-type activities.”

The audit did not detect any internal weakness in administrative control, McIntosh told the board.

“I’m impressed with the audit,” said Supervisor Jennifer Hager, who was first elected in 2010. “I’ve been sitting up here a long time, and that’s the best one I’ve ever read.”

ITID President Betty Argue agreed and complimented the district staff led by Executive Director Burgess Hanson, who called it a team effort.

“It takes all of us for it to go together,” Argue agreed. “I’m really proud to be part of this district.”

Highlights from the audit include:

• Total assets decreased by approximately $2.7 million or approximately 4 percent during the current fiscal year. A majority of the decrease is the result of a reduction in debt service assessment receivable for outstanding bonds. As the bonds are paid down, the amount owed from residents also decreases.

• Total liabilities increased by approximately $272,791 or 1.8 percent during the current fiscal year due to increases in accounts and contracts payables as of Sept. 30, 2020.

• The district’s government-wide total net position at the end of the year was approximately $49 million, down from $52 million the previous year.

• The district’s net investment in capital assets accounts for $35.4 million of the total net position. Restricted amounts of net position include $9 million for debt service and $5 million for maintenance of the district’s units of development.

• The district’s primary fund, the Special Revenue Fund, had expenditures in excess of revenues in the amount of approximately $3 million. Ending fund balance for the Special Revenue Fund was $8.6 million, a decrease from $11.5 million. Restricted fund balance in the Special Revenue Fund as of Sept. 30, 2020 was approximately $8.3 million, or 54 percent of fiscal year 2020 expenditures, representing the district’s reserves. This amount exceeds ITID policy to maintain 25 to 30 percent of budgeted expenditures for emergencies and end of year cash flow needs.

However, the audit also made clear that continued growth in the area will create challenges for ITID leaders and perhaps require big decisions of residents.

“The district is largely assessment-based, and since special assessments must specifically benefit affected properties and be fairly apportioned, the district must continually look to its assessment powers to raise the revenues necessary to fund the services and improvements demanded by its residents. The district is aggressively seeking grant opportunities as a revenue source to help offset the increasing project costs and requests by the residents,” the report stated. “The future of the district includes potential incorporation to a municipality or to maintain the status of a special district but expand or reduce the services to the level of residents’ needs.”

In other business:

• The supervisors directed staff to develop a policy for board approval with specific criteria as to when dirt roads should be repaired or milled or paved. However, Argue said, there is no plan to mill all the district’s dirt roads during the next 15 years, though at this point doing so might be more financially sustainable. “It’s important that the residents on these roads have a choice,” she said. “If they want it to stay dirt, it can be dirt.”

• The supervisors heard from Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Craig Turner regarding the ongoing problem of young people riding four-wheelers and dirt bikes on ITID roads. Asked whether an oft-discussed all-terrain-vehicle (ATV) park would help the situation, Turner said it might have a 25 to 30 percent impact. “There’s a culture of riding these bikes,” Turner said. “A lot of them see it as part of the ‘Lox-life.’” He said the only thing that would change the dynamic significantly is greater parental buy-in that such behavior not be tolerated. Turner also reported that there were 18 vehicular accidents over the previous four weeks, including two with injuries.

• The supervisors heard from ITID Parks & Recreation Director Elizabeth Ricci that improvements to the Sycamore Park playground should be completed by May 20 and that permits for improvements to the Temple Park playground would be pulled April 22.

• The supervisors passed a resolution honoring recently retired PBSO Chief Deputy Michael Gauger. A longtime Wellington resident, Gauger served with the PBSO for almost 50 years. During that time, he was repeatedly honored for his promotion of and leadership in the western communities.

• The supervisors welcomed Anthony Tozzi as the new Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue chief for Battalion 2, which covers most of the western communities. Tozzi, who had been battalion chief in western Delray Beach, is a longtime Wellington resident with 37 years of firefighting experience, including 28 in Palm Beach County.