GMD Undergrounding Project
On November 3, 2015, the Town’s electors voted to authorize the Town’s borrowing of up to $25,250,000 for undergrounding utilities (electric, telephone, cable and fiber optic) and feeder lines on Gulf of Mexico Drive, including Binnacle Point in Spanish Main and on Broadway ("GMD Undergrounding Project"). These costs will be paid for through non-ad valorem assessments.
The Town recorded a Notice of Special Assessments with Sarasota and Manatee counties on May 2, 2016. This Notice puts everyone on notice that the assessments constitute a lien against the assessed property equal in rank and dignity with the liens of all state, county, city or municipal taxes and other non-ad valorem assessments. This notice does not and shall not be construed to require that individual liens or releases be filed in the Official Records.
The Town is providing homeowners an opportunity to prepay their assessments. A letter with instructions was mailed out May 24, 2016 requiring prepayment to occur on or before August 15, 2016. If the homeowner does not want to prepay, they do nothing in response to the letter, in which case the assessment imposed against the parcel will be collected as an annual installment appearing on the annual tax bill from their County commencing in November 2016. The annual assessment will continue for a period of thirty (30) years.
If the homeowner later decides to pay the amount in full after August 15, 2016, the taxpayer will need to contact the Town to obtain the payoff amount to reflect a reduction in the principal balance for annual payments made to date, if any, plus any accrued interest or other financing charges.
- At the September 12th workshop, the Commission met for several hours to discuss the preliminary findings of staff relating to the direction given at the July 5th meeting. A copy of the PowerPoint presentation is provided HERE.
The Commission was advised by legal counsel that in order to adopt any major changes to the apportionment methodology resulting in disparate treatment of property owners within the same benefit category, a new referendum may be necessary. Therefore, discussion of altering the “55 foot” rule was determined inadvisable and the Commission focused on other alternatives. Ultimately the Commission charged staff with the responsibility to secure more “definitive project costs” and committed to a 50% reduction in the Neighborhood General Benefit category. As a result, the Commission assigned $370,308 out of the Fund Balance. The source of the funds will be from the Non-Ad Valorem portion of the fund balance.
No further action was taken and it is anticipated that no further information on potential assessments will be available for some time. Before imposing the neighborhood assessments and approving the dollar amounts to be imposed, the Town will provide mailed notice to each property owner affected by the neighborhood assessments and will conduct a public hearing for the benefit of those property owners and the general public. The next course of action is to conduct the extensive survey work required. That work is underway. Once the survey work is completed the Town will obtain a more definitive estimate of project costs and will update the potential assessments at that time.
Below is a unofficial excerpt of the draft minutes summarizing the direction and action taken by the Commission on September 12.
From Special Workshop:
2. Neighborhood Undergrounding Update
Following additional comments, there was majority consensus to utilize FPL franchise fees and other non-ad valorem revenues to offset the impact of the Neighborhood general benefits.
There was majority consensus to authorize utilization of budget (advanced) funds to provide preliminary funding for various items which will provide more definitive project costs to begin work now.
There was consensus to refrain from spending additional time/funds on refining current cost reports.
From Regular Meeting:
11. Ordinance 2016-23, Adopting Millage Rates for the Town of Longboat Key for Fiscal Year Beginning October 1, 2016 and Ending September 30, 2017
12. Ordinance 2016-24, Adopting a Budget for the Town of Longboat Key for the Fiscal Year Beginning October 1, 2016 and Ending September 30, 2017
Commr. Pastor moved to assign $370,308 of the current General Fund Non-Ad Valorem portion of the fund balance for the Neighborhood Undergrounding Project. The motion was seconded by Commr. Zunz.
Ms. Pat Zunz, Lands End, supported formal action on the motion.
Discussion ensued on providing public notice of the proposed action.
The motion carried by a 4-3 roll call vote, as follows: Pastor, aye; Zunz, aye; Daly, aye; Linde, no; Younger, no; Gans, aye; Duncan, no.
Videos of the Town Commission’s Special Workshop and Regular Meeting are available HERE.
- Following the voter approval of the "GMD Undergrounding Project", the Town Commission decided to move forward with posing a second referendum question to the Town voters related to the issuance of additional debt to finance the costs of undergrounding the remaining utilities within the neighborhood and side street areas of the Town ("Neighborhood Undergrounding Project").
On December 7th, the Town Commission reviewed the recommended methodology utilizing non-ad valorem assessments and discussed the scope of the project estimated at $23,850,000. On December 14th, the Town Commission heard the first reading of the Ordinance 2016-05 placing the question before the voters at the March 15, 2016 election. Notice of the ordinance was issued by the Town Clerk December 23, 2015 and published in the Herald-Tribune. The second reading, public hearing and adoption of Ordinance 2016-05 occurred on January 4, 2016 (link to Ordinance 2016-05).
On March 15, 2016 the electors voted to authorize the Town's borrowing of up to $23,850,000, to finance the remaining undergrounding of electrical utilities in certain neighborhoods including street lighting installation, and communications/fiber optics utilities in certain neighborhoods, payable solely from special assessments imposed against real property throughout the Town and other non-ad valorem revenues if necessary.
The process for implementing the special assessment for the Neighborhood Undergrounding Project is described in Town Ordinance 2015-30 and involves the following steps and meetings noted below.
The Commission did not take final action on July 5th and directed staff to review certain aspects of the methodology. THE ASSESSMENT FOR THE NEIGHBORHOOD PROJECT ARE NOT FINALIZED UNTIL THE COMMISSION TAKES FURTHER ACTION. Staff will be providing an update this fall. Please check back on the website for further updates and information.
Here are the unofficial minutes from July 5, 2016 meeting;
Town Manager Bullock reviewed the following Staff direction:
- analysis of the 55-foot rule with review of the impact on individual taxable units in addition to parcel review
Following comments, Commr. Younger moved to direct Staff to complete the review as outlined by the Town Manager. The motion, seconded by Commr. Linde, carried by a 7-0 roll call vote, as follows: Younger, aye; Linde, aye; Gans, aye; Zunz, aye; Pastor, aye; Daly, aye; Duncan, aye.