What Happens If The Water Vote Fails?

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The Pinecrest election is now underway and voters have until 7:00 pm Tuesday, March 26 to get the ballot that was mailed to them back to the County elections department. Some have already voted while others are still trying to make up their minds.

This election has become very contentious as can be seen by the many social media comments recently posted and the impassioned verbal exchanges taking place among citizens. As the debate continues, the level of hostility has increased as citizens begin to drop to the lowest levels and insult and degrade one another rather than discuss the issues at hand.

Complicated issues are tough to solve and often require patience, hard work, and compromise as well as the sincere efforts of opposing parties to try to seek the best possible solution. While social media may be a good source of information and offers the free expression of thought, it can also be abused and manipulated by those seeking to advance their agenda. Facts stated as facts are often unsubstantiated and uncorroborated, disguised as undisputed data, and then used as tools to confuse and mislead readers while fanning the fires of emotion so that clear thinking is substituted with uncontrolled passions.

It is hoped that when this is vote is over the community can get back together.

At the recent water vote information meetings sponsored by the Village attendees have raised the question of what happens if the water vote fails. They wonder… will we ever be able to get access to County water? Is there another way?

For the upcoming vote, no alternative is offered. This election is a simple yes or no vote as to the issuance of bonds and the associated acceptance or rejection of the specified property tax increase to pay for the bonds.

But for those who want to explore alternatives, information can be found both on the Village web site as well as online searches.

In an April 3, 2017 Village of Pinecrest Memorandum which includes portions from the Pinecrest Master Plan done by C3TS Consultants and updates to that Master Plan report, there is a discussion of financing alternatives. The full report can be found at this link: https://www.pinecrest-fl.gov/home/showdocument?id=9255

One alternative discussed in the Memorandum is the Village Special Assessment. The way it would work, as outlined in the report, is as follows (updated using current market conditions): the cost of improvements at $15,000,000, an annual interest rate of 4% paid over a thirty-year period; the cost per property (for the remaining 739 properties) would be approximately $20,298 lump sum payment or approximately $1,164 per year or $97 per month. This figure can vary depending on changing financial conditions.

To compare that to the to the .23 mill tax increase under the current vote, and using an assessment range of between $700,000 to $1,500,000 for the remaining 739 properties (an online calculator for a specific assessment amount is available at https://www.pinecrest-fl.gov/our-village/pinecrest-water-vote/calculator), the annual tax increase for this range would be between $161 to $345 per year.

Under the Special Assessment District as a financing method, the payment would increase to $1,164 per year. The difference is about is about $800 to $1,000 more per year than with an increased Village-wide tax.

Obviously, no one wants to pay more than they believe they should but by exploring this method it can be seen what this financing alternative is about. It also quantifies the money amount and answers the question of what if?

In addition, the report suggests other financing alternatives such as Federal Loan (WIFIA), State Revolving Fund (SRF), County General Obligation Bond, and County/Village Special Taxing District.

Also, what is critical to know is how many of the 739 property owners actually want County water? To date, no count has been taken by the VOP, and if previous experience with the prior phase is any indication, most will choose to stay with their well. This may create a predicament where millions of dollars has been spent for water lines that remain mostly buried underground and unused.

In that case, the County will not be happy as they will not be receiving revenue from water service, the Village will not be happy as the new debt is not adequately serving the needs of its residents, and property owners will not be happy as their tax dollars will have been mostly wasted.

This vote is important so be sure to vote. But before casting your ballot, make sure you clearly understand what the vote is about.


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3 COMMENTS

  1. This is about policy and how Pinecrest treats it’s homeowners services, is it based on objective review or based on partial review of what someone benefits. Do projects that benefit a Street, a canal, beautification, or children, only get paid for by those families or do we all contribute as one community? Homeowners that received infrastructure in 1992 and 2007-2009, paid $0 direct dollars. No one has explained why it’s ok for those hundreds of homes to pay $0 for installation but the last homes on the list should be held to a different standard. It’s a policy precedent that I can’t get past, agree with the history choice or not, we can’t ignore it. Starting to have policy by the number of homes that will receive a realistic direct benefit will begin a battle of projects for years to come. Is this how projects will now be judged or do we get back to community benefits when each homeowner benefits.

  2. No one is trying to hold the last 739 homes to a different standard, than the last group was held to.The reason you can’t wrap your head around it is you have been too close to it for too long. It is the exact same standard that those opposing this referendum are supporting. HAVE THE COUNTY PUT IN THE LINES WITH COUNTY FUNDING. Treat them exactly as phase 1 and 2. Our side agrees. The last group of homes should get their water line access just the same as in phase 1 and 2.
    What has put phase 3 homeowners into a different catigory is the insistence that it is urgent and must be done now, because it is and emergency. Nothing has changed in the last 10 years to have created an emergency, however. So ok if that is your point of view we will not stand in your way, you can put in your own water. Just don’t look to the rest of the residents to indulge your impatience, and pay for 20 years.

    In response to Pinecrest’s policy for funding services, this seems to be the first project that doesn’t benefit all. The projects to date ( community center, parks , schools, stormwater projects that keep streets we all can drive on from flooding, curculater bus, which must allow anyone to ride, not just school kids that it was set up for and Pinecrest Gardens to cite a few, are there for all residents to enjoy. Some may not use them even though their taxes helped finance them. I don’t see a future policy issue problem for Pinecrest as they seem to have a good track record of keeping public money spent for public projects. The only reason for this referendum is because it is an anomaly, both in size of the bond and that it would not benifit all residents. I don’t think you need worry about the future projects the VOP will do. You know how projects get voted on. Proposals are on the agenda, people contact council members, the public speaks at meetings and council votes. Each project stands or falls on its own merits.

  3. Well stated, Karen. This rushed vote is a sham. There was no urgency for this vote to be taking place now thru mail ballots instead of during a normal scheduled County voting day. I’d like to know how much this is costing the Village. The only reason it is occurring now is that 750 property owners are hoping that a light response will favor them.

    Taking on $15 million in debt would be solely for the benefit of 750 homes. It does absolutely nothing for the rest of our Village. Let the Village establish a special taxing district for these property owners and let they buy their water infrastructure if they so desperately want water.

    I liken this to hardening a home for hurricanes. Lets have the entire Village pay increased taxes for 20 years so we can put impact doors / windows on 750 homes. What’s the difference? It is simply taxing the whole for the benefit of a very few.

    This must be a NO vote.

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