An increase of more than $1 million in the Amenity Authority Committee’s share of the Community Watch budget is raising eyebrows.
The AAC’s share of the Community Watch budget in 2023-24 will be $3.592 million. The AAC’s portion of the Community Watch budget in 2022-23 was $2.447 million.
The entire cost for Community Watch in The Villages for the next fiscal year will be $11.872 million. The cost is shared by the Project Wide Advisory Committee and the Developer, who is collecting amenity fees from residents south of State Road 44. The AAC provides amenities north of County Road 466 and PWAC oversees amenities between County Road 466 and State Road 44.
The increase in the cost of Community Watch caused concern Wednesday as the AAC was reviewing its budget for the coming fiscal year.
Deputy District Manager Carrie Duckett said increases in the minimum wage are driving most of the higher costs in the Community Watch budget. It is estimated that the impact of the minimum wage increases will add up to $1.7 million of the Community Watch budget. In addition, Community Watch will be adding 26,000 hours in new positions for a total of $800,000.
Community Watch is also taking on “new duties” including more visits to swimming pools, providing reflective “slap bands” to walkers spotted out at dusk and dawn and educating residents about the Community Help Initiative Response Program (CHIRP).
AAC member Jim Vaccaro called the Community Watch increases “outrageous.”
“Are there ways to provide the services Community Watch provides in a more cost-effective way?” asked fellow AAC member Richard Benson.
The board agreed to adopt its preliminary budget, which includes the Community Watch increases. However, AAC members vowed to be vigilant when it comes to the costs of Community Watch.
“We need to keep a close eye on the budget and line items to make sure these things don’t get out of control,” said AAC member Don Deakin.