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The Villages
Friday, June 21, 2024

Residents say it’s time to restore promise of cap on amenity rates

Janet Sweeny bought her home in the Amelia Villas nearly two decades ago.

She is worried because her amenity fees continue to climb and she no longer has the assurance of a cap on her rate.

“I am on a fixed income and enough is enough,” Sweeny said.

Many residents of Florida’s Friendliest Hometown are cheering a call from Community Development District 1 Board Chairman Rocky Hyder to restore the cap on amenity rates.

“It is time a cap is put on the fee. It’s getting just like big government. Spend, spend, spend and spend some more,” said Villager Richard Ryan. “It’s time to stop.”

Spending millions in amenity fees to restore and renovate executive courses “damaged by El Nino,” is another example of out-of-control spending, he said.

“Apparently someone wasn’t doing their job,” he said.

Villager Pamela Obman said the loss of the cap is like so many other discarded promises, such as the assurance of “build out” that prompted so many to invest in their homes before construction ended. But construction didn’t end. It keeps going and going and going.

“It’s time to stop the highway robbery!” Obman said.

Lee Rooks of the Village of Virgina Trace offered a little history lesson about the decision to remove the cap five years ago.

“In 2019, a ‘fear’ was expressed wth regard to the surplus of roughly $44 million at that time. They jiggled the numbers to make it look as though the reserves would diminish if they didn’t remove the cap,” Rooks said.

He said officials neglected to look at the big picture.

“They failed to consider when an existing home is resold, the former cap goes away. New owner equals new cap. After cap removal, the surplus surged to $84 million, then past $100 million. It’s still rising despite using some of the surplus to cover newly budgeted Christmas lists,” he said.

He said property owners need the cap back.

“Maybe only grant it to residents with the homestead exemption,” Rooks added.

Not everyone sees it that way.

“Be careful what you wish for,” warned Clarence Maschinot of the Village of St. Charles.

He said keeping The Villages a first-class community should remain a top priority.

“We all are aware that costs continue to rise in most areas. This includes the many expenses necessary to keep The Villages the great place that it is. Capping amenity fees would likely lead in a deterioration of amenities. Surely most Villagers would not want that,” Maschinot said.

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