If you own a home in The Villages, located south of County Road 466, then understanding the Project Wide Advisory Committee is important to you. You should have recently received your 2021 property tax bill; about half of the maintenance fee on your bill will be spent by PWAC. More importantly, are the residents paying a fair share of taxes compared to the developer. It’s your money.
At a recent social event in my neighborhood, the conversation was about local politics, something I am very passionate about. Most Villagers are pretty uninformed about the aspects of The Villages District government that affect their lives and taxes. One subject that came up was the Project Wide Advisory Committee (PWAC, pronounced “Pee-Whack.”) When asked what they knew about PWAC, not a single neighbor could tell me what it was or how it was funded. That is unfortunate because PWAC spends most of your tax money from the maintenance fee on your property tax bills.
I am one of the five elected members on the District 5 Board of Supervisors; all of the revenue ($2,326,093 for FY2010-22) from the Maintenance Fees paid by Residents, who own homes in District 5, goes into the District 5 budget. And, 64 percent of that budget goes into the PWAC fund for efforts for the wide area of The Villages south of County Road 466. The remainder of the funds in the District 5 budget are spent within the boundaries of District 5 on landscaping, electricity, irrigation water, and other maintenance. The other residential districts (6 through 13) have similar budgets that are primarily funded by the maintenance fees collected on the property tax bills of the residents in those districts.
PWAC is a committee of representatives from the Sumter and Brownwood commercial districts and the nine residential districts that meet monthly to discuss issues that affect both commercial and residential districts as a whole. PWAC is responsible for the maintenance and improvement of the shared infrastructure (landscaping, irrigation water, multi-modal trails, water retention areas, etc.) with an annual budget of $17+ million. One supervisor on each of the nine resident’s District Board of Supervisors has a seat on the PWAC.
How do you fund PWAC? The residential districts 5-13 and commercial districts of Brownwood and Lake Sumter Landing pay fees to PWAC. The total fees are $14,492,832, with 97.7 percent paid by the residential districts and only 2.3 percent paid by the two commercial districts (property owned by the Developer.) Therefore, almost all PWAC revenue is the “Maintenance Fee” on each resident’s property tax bill. The revenue from your Maintenance Fee on your tax bill goes to your district government. For example, District 5 will receive $2,326,093 in Maintenance Fees from the residents in District 5; District 5 sends $1,810,154 to the PWAC fund. The sources of the above information are the FY2021-22 budget data are available on The Villages District Government website.
Why is the PWAC funding lopsided? The reason is that PWAC was initially established via an SLCDD (Sumter Landing Community Development District) resolution 13-05 in 2013. These landowners (also known as the Developer) supported members approved a package that gave the responsibility for approval of all projects to SLCDD, a landowner elected committee. Most important, the method of taxation is based on “assessable acreage,” a term that refers to the size of the land a parcel is located on, regardless of the value of the buildings and land. More importantly this method of taxation does not appear anywhere in Florida statutes. It was made up by the developer elected committees, for PWAC at the time of resolution 13-05. Why? It allows the Developer to pay only 2 percent of the costs.
If this bothers you as it bothers me, there are some things that you can do.
The major PWAC questions are: Are the two Developer-owned commercial districts paying their fair share? How can the residents ensure fairness? How can the residents ensure that the PWAC funds are being spent for the best interests of the residents?
The first step is for the residents to elect good supervisors to each of their district boards. Then each of those boards can ensure that the members of PWAC pursue the best interests of the residents. But the residents can only achieve this if good candidates are running for those offices in the 2022 election.
Are you a potential candidate for your District Board of Supervisors, who will act in the best interest of the Residents? The elections for these offices are independent of political parties. If you want to know about the duties these supervisors, I can help you. If you want to know how, or you want help getting elected, Fair Government for Sumter (www.fg4s.org) is here to help. We can show you how to get started, help you run your campaign, and support you with advertising. We have a good track record of success in the last election. The 2022 election cycle is starting, and we need you! The best way to contact me is the Contact Us form on the FG4S website, and I will help you with much of what you need to get elected! Make a difference!
Villager Reed G. Panos is chairman of Fair Government for Sumter, Inc.