Project Wide Advisory Committee members are questioning whether Villages residents’ money is being used to subsidize fire protection for commercial development.
There were more questions than answers when PWAC discussed the planned $1.8 million expansion at The Villages Public Safety Department Station 40 on Parr Drive off County Road 466.
The multi-story Elan Buena Vista senior living facility has put more demand on Station 40, thus the need for the expansion. The station will need to be equipped with a ladder truck, which requires an additional 3,212 square feet at the building for a total of 6,500 square feet. During the upcoming construction project, the fire crew will be staying in a trailer.
“It looks like the residents are footing the bill for a new commercial building. It’s kind of disturbing,” said PWAC member Don Wiley, who also serves as a supervisor in Community Development District 10.
He wasn’t alone in that concern.
“We are paying out of our amenity funds for that building. That is very concerning,” said PWAC member Jerry Vicenti, who serves as a supervisor in Community Development District 7.
Those comments sparked a discussion about the complexities of fire funding and who is paying into that fund.
It was determined that the building would be owned by the residents and the estimated $1.8 million would be paid back through the lease for The Villages Public Safety Department.
“We own the facilities and fire services leases the building from us so it will be sort of like a mortgage,” said PWAC Chairman Peter Moeller.
Wiley wanted to know what the “return on investment” would be.
“What is the ROI? We’ll have added maintenance because it’s a larger facility. If it’s a 30-year ROI, that’s a bad deal for the residents,” Wiley said
District Manager Richard Baier said staff would be coming back with an overview and breakdown. Bids should be coming back in December.
Moeller tried to put things into perspective and praised the work of The Villages Public Safety Department.
“It’s a stellar system. It’s working quite well. This is just a small piece of it,” Moeller said.