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The Villages
Thursday, April 25, 2024

Why are current homeowners in The Villages paying for the expansion of fire department down south?

John Kastura

You’re mistaken if you think this only impacts residents in The Villages.  Reviewing the VPSDDD map, you will find that communities like Lakeside Landing, Rails End, and Parkwood are in the new dependent district.  A fire impact fee is a one-time fee that is paid when a building permit is issued; the money collected is used to pay for the additional Fire/Rescue/EMS Ambulance service infrastructure needed to support the growth in the number of new homes and commercial buildings, etc.  I assume that there would be one Sumter County impact fee schedule. The county would collect the fees when building permits were issues and turn over the fire impact fees collected for property within the Villages Public Safety Dependent District (VPSDDD) to the VSPDDD.

As The Villages expands south of Highway 44, new fire stations, fire/rescue vehicles, and EMS transport vehicles are required; new equipment for the fire stations and vehicles is required, plus the initial supplies to make them operational.  The current property owners pay these costs.  If you are a current property owner in the VSPDDD, you should be asking why you are paying for this expansion. 

Lake County already has a fire impact fee.  Currently, Sumter County does not have a fire impact fee, and the county ordinance that established the VPSDDD does not permit a fire impact fee.   I believe that the VPSDDD board, which should place the interests of the residents first, should ask the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) to implement a fire impact fee. 

Each new home in The Villages has a bond (A new homeowner south of 44 told me their bond was $40,000.)  The bond covers infrastructure; it includes “stormwater systems, underground pump stations, water retention areas, curbs, gutters, streetlights, transportation trails, underground piping, etc.” It does not cover fire/rescue/EMS-transport infrastructure.   Sumter County does have a road impact fee.  Lake County has a road and a fire impact fee.  CDDs 11 and 14 are in Lake County; when the building permits were issues for each new home a fire impact fee was paid to Lake County.  The VSPD is the prime provider of services in CDDs 11 and 14.  An interesting question is whether fire impact fees collected by Lake County helped fund additional VSPD infrastructure.

Dan Warren delivered a well-thought-out plea for implementing a Fire Impact Fee at the March VSPDDD board meeting. Dan “implored this board to take steps to implement a fire impact fee.” You can listen to the 3-minute audio recording of Dan’s plea via this link. We need more Dan Warren(s) to speak up at Sumter BOCC and VPSDDD meetings/sessions and/or email the board members.

Three “VSPSDDD Funding Mechanism Public Information Sessions” are scheduled to familiarize the public.  At the session of your choice, you will also learn why the $125 Fire fee on your 2023 property tax bill will change to the suggested $333 (167% increase) on your 2024 bill and how this saves you money.    

The sessions are:

Monday, March 11, 10:00 AM, Rohan Recreation Center

Thursday, March 14, 5:30 PM, Laurel Manor Recreation Center

Monday, March 25, 2:00 PM, Ezell Recreation Center.

The BOCC members are elected at large, and their email addresses and the meeting schedule are available online.  VPSDDD board member email addresses are also available online; two of the five seats are in the 2024 election. 

On the District Government website, this map shows three districts (12, 13, & 14) south of Highway 44.  The website also lists the total number of homesites in the three districts as 19,317.   I could not find the number of homesites for the newer districts (15, Eastport, and Middleton) on the website.  Using the number of 19,317 homesites and assuming a $1000 fire impact fee results in $19.3 million for fire/EMS infrastructure.  The $19.3 million does not include building permits for commercial buildings, recreation centers, etc. 

In early 2024, Properties of The Villages mailed a flyer to residents; the average sale price for new homes in 2023 was $420K; a $1000 adder for new fire/rescue infrastructure would have been a 0.24% increase.  For 2023 alone, a $1000 fire impact would have yielded $3.1 million from the new homes sold in The Villages.  (Additional funds would come from new commercial buildings, etc.).   

John Kastura is a resident of The Villages.

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