9/8 THUR 16:00 | Special Districts and Financing Growth in Florida 2


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Todd Wodraska

“Growth” requires public facilities and services, but in Florida “Growth Should Pay for Itself”! Counties and cities resist using taxes to provide for new residents, shifting the burden to more than 1600 “special districts”. Districts build facilities using borrowed money, repaying debt from annual “assessments” only upon the “benefited” property owners within their boundaries. Until recently, the spigots of exuberant capitalism gushed freely,
but the fiscal world has changed. Florida will continue to grow -- but what are the “New Rules” for America’s post-“Meltdown” financial system? Will special districts find the resources to address
the needs of Future Florida?

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9/8 THUR 16:00 | Special Districts and Financing Growth in Florida 2

  1. 1. Special District Services, Inc. 2501A Burns Road Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410 www.sdsinc.org Special Districts
  2. 2. Types of Special Districts <ul><li>Special Acts created by the Legislature </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Improvement Districts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stewardship Districts </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Dependent Districts </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Another municipality oversees budget or board </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Independent Districts </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Community Development Districts </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. What is a Community Development District? <ul><li>Special purpose unit of local government created under the Uniform Community Development Act of 1980, Chapter 190, F.S. charged with financing, acquiring, operating and maintaining community-wide infrastructure in large scale planned developments. </li></ul><ul><li>Legislation was created to encourage planned community development and to allow for the financing and maintenance of long-term infrastructure. </li></ul><ul><li>A Community Development District (CDD) is established through the approval of the local government in which it is located for CDDs less than 1,000 acres and by the Governor and Cabinet for CDDs greater than 1,000 acres. </li></ul><ul><li>The CDD is governed by a 5-member elected Board of Supervisors. </li></ul><ul><li>There are currently in excess of 350 CDDs in the State of Florida. </li></ul>
  4. 4. What a Special District Can Do <ul><li>Sell tax-exempt bonds to finance the acquisition and/or construction of certain public improvements. </li></ul><ul><li>Dedicate to the City/County those facilities that the developer is required to dedicate by the project’s development order. </li></ul><ul><li>Assume the maintenance responsibilities for the improvements. </li></ul><ul><li>Levy non-ad valorem special assessments which are co-equal with City/County taxes and other special assessments. </li></ul><ul><li>Purchase, finance and construct “public infrastructure” </li></ul>
  5. 5. What is “Public Infrastructure” <ul><li>Water and wastewater infrastructure </li></ul><ul><li>Storm water management infrastructure </li></ul><ul><li>Parks, recreational facilities and civic sites </li></ul><ul><li>Conservation preserves and buffer landscaping </li></ul><ul><li>Entry features and landscaping </li></ul><ul><li>Permitting, testing and engineering </li></ul><ul><li>Off-site improvements required by a development order </li></ul><ul><li>Roadways </li></ul><ul><ul><li>sidewalks, bike paths, lighting and landscaping </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. What a Special District Cannot Do <ul><li>Take any actions which are inconsistent with the comprehensive plans, ordinances and regulations of the City/County. </li></ul><ul><li>Adopt its own comprehensive plan, building code or land development code. </li></ul><ul><li>Conflict with applicable City/County laws, rules, regulations, and policies governing planning and permitting of the development. </li></ul><ul><li>Allow its debt to constitute a burden on the City/County. </li></ul><ul><li>Provide any services or facilities which will be incompatible with the capacity and uses of the City/County’s community development services and facilities. </li></ul><ul><li>Allow its special assessments to impact millage caps of either the City/County or School Board or any other government. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Reporting Requirements for Special Districts <ul><li>Must follow all applicable procedural and reporting rules required of municipal governments under Florida Statutes including: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Elections </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bidding and awarding of contracts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Advertising of meetings and holding meetings in the “Sunshine” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Must fulfill governmental reporting requirements including: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Preparation and distribution of minutes to appropriate governmental agencies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Maintenance of official records </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reporting and filling of financial information </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Must establish and administer internal accounting controls. </li></ul><ul><li>Must disclose to potential landowners the existence of the CDD and the amount of the special assessments levied by the CDD for both debt service and operation and maintenance. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Benefits to the City/County <ul><li>Growth pays for itself: “fiscal neutrality” </li></ul><ul><li>Increase in tax base </li></ul><ul><li>High quality improvements and amenities. </li></ul><ul><li>CDD outlives the developer </li></ul><ul><li>Liability for assessments limited to individual parcels </li></ul><ul><li>Property values maintained at higher level </li></ul>
  9. 9. Benefits to the Residents <ul><li>High quality improvements and amenities </li></ul><ul><li>Assessments must be disclosed in sales contracts </li></ul><ul><li>Residents have the option to prepay at anytime without penalty. </li></ul><ul><li>Resident participation and input is encouraged. </li></ul><ul><li>Stability of collection of assessments. </li></ul><ul><li>Liability for assessments limited to individual parcels. </li></ul><ul><li>Meetings advertised and held in the “Sunshine”. </li></ul><ul><li>Property values maintained at higher level. </li></ul><ul><li>Residents gain control of the CDD over a six to eight year period. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Benefits to Developers <ul><li>Provides flexibility in initial home price points </li></ul><ul><li>Low cost of financing </li></ul><ul><li>Sales tax exemption on construction costs funded by the CDD </li></ul><ul><li>Non-recourse </li></ul><ul><li>Ability to fund off-site improvements </li></ul><ul><li>Strong collection method for operation and maintenance assessments </li></ul>
  11. 11. Team of Professionals for Special Districts District District Manager District Engineer Bond Counsel Financial Advisor District Counsel Underwriter Trustee Underwriter’s Counsel