A $200,000 pipe emergency and a $120,000 traffic study prompted a budget battle in Community Development District 1.
The CDD 1 board on Friday morning had been prepared to consider a 15 percent increase in the maintenance assessment in the 2022-23 budget. The board earlier this year learned of the $200,000 pipe failure on San Marino Drive and has been pressured by residents to commit to a traffic study due to their concerns about the dangerous co-mingling of golf carts and automobile traffic on Morse Boulevard north of County Road 466.
In addition, Supervisor Judy Biebesheimer held up a chart which showed CDD 1 has not had a rate increase since 2016. She said the 15 percent increase would provide for the future financial stability of CDD 1.
However, Villager Suzanne O’Neill Charneski said a 15 percent increase would be more than residents could afford.
The 15-year resident, who works as a physical therapist, said her work takes her inside homes in CDD 1. Charneski said she sees the often-grim financial situations faced by residents.
“We don’t need an increase. We need to look at our neighbors and what they can afford,” she said. “I go into people’s homes and I see what is going on. Our district has a lot of older senior members on fixed incomes.”
Her comments fueled a budget deadlock among the four supervisors present at the meeting. Supervisor Ellen Cora was absent.
Biebesheimer and Supervisor Rocky Hyder wanted the 15 percent increase, but Chairwoman Kathy Porter and Supervisor Bill Jenness were adamantly against it. Their deeply held convictions set in a motion a series of 2-2 votes as 5 and 10 percent increases were proposed and failed to win favorable votes.
Hyder reluctantly agreed to support a 10 percent increase in the maintenance assessment in order for the board to pass a budget by the statutory deadline.
“We are spending more money than we were taking in,” Hyder reminded his fellow board members.
The 10 percent increase was approved by a 3-1 vote, with Biebesheimer voting against it.