Louis Colantuoni with the citizens group facilitating the Acreage incorporation effort presented an update on its progress to the Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors on Wednesday, Nov. 17.
Also present were the other members of the citizens group, Elizabeth Accomando and Bob Morgan.
The group is leading an effort started by ITID to get a public referendum on the incorporation of The Acreage.
The local bill hearing was set for Oct. 28, but it was tabled and will now be heard by the Palm Beach County Legislative Delegation at its Wednesday, Dec. 8 meeting at the Dolly Hand Cultural Arts Center in Belle Glade from 10 a.m. to noon.
If approved by the legislative delegation, the effort would to Tallahassee. If approved by the full legislature during the 2022 session and signed by the governor, a referendum on incorporation would be held during the 2022 election cycle.
The local bill’s consideration has already been delayed once due to concerns over questions in the bill and disagreements in the community. Further delays could shift the process.
Colantuoni thanked the board for the job that it did to get the referendum on incorporation as far as it has. “If it wasn’t for what was done, we wouldn’t have the foundation we are working with right now,” he said.
The committee submitted the feasibility study and proposed charter to Tallahassee on Sept. 3 and gave a local bill package to the legislative delegation on Sept. 28. It had meetings with local legislators, several community meetings, as well as meetings and discussions with members of the community.
“We’ve also had quite a bit of back-and-forth information passed around through the internet and on our web site, www.votelox.com,” Colantuoni said.
The committee also did a survey on naming the potential municipality.
“The Village of Loxahatchee was the number one choice of that survey,” he said.
There were concerns about Unit 18, the Royal Palm Beach neighborhood of Madison Green, continuing to be assessed until 2032 due to its outstanding construction debt, as well as litigation between the Seminole Improvement District, Minto and ITID.
“There was a perception of the conversion of Indian Trail to a municipality,” Colantuoni said. “The feasibility of the area left unincorporated, there were some concerns in those areas, and preserving and protecting agriculture in the equestrian area of the community was also a concern.”
Changes that were made to alleviate those issues were that the Indian Trail Improvement District would remain an independent special district, and that ITID would turn over certain ITID assets to the new municipality if the referendum is successful.
Stronger language was also added to the proposed charter to protect agricultural properties, he said.
The feasibility study shows that a municipality with a 3.0 millage rate would generate more revenue than expenses, Colantuoni said.
The feasibility study also relies on the transfer of ITID assets, including major capital items, such as the administration building, equipment related to roadways, and parks and recreation facilities through an interlocal agreement upon incorporation.
“If ITID and the new village cannot agree on transferring those responsibilities and associated assets, the net effect would be actually a decrease of approximately $2.9 million of annual expenditures by the village,” he said. “However, it would also mean an increase in expenses and tax assessments for ITID within the municipality.”
Colantuoni asked that ITID give its blessing to this latest set of changes.
“We, as a group, respectfully request a resolution from the Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors committing to the transfer of those assets and an interlocal agreement with the future municipality,” he said.
The proposed charter has been amended to say that ITID will remain an independent district, Unit 18 (Madison Green) will be removed from ITID’s boundaries upon repayment of its bonds, and ITID will transfer certain assets to the municipality. The GL Homes provisions have also been included, as well as provisions strengthening agriculture and equestrian protections.
Later in the meeting, the board passed a resolution in a 3-2 vote supporting the current version of the local bill submitted in the 2022 legislative session, which would require a referendum on the question of whether the Village of Loxahatchee should be created, and whether ITID as an independent special district should continue and transfer certain assets and liabilities to the new village. Supervisors Keith Jordano and Joni Martin cast the dissenting votes.