Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Lakewood Ranch Taxes Going Up ... or Maybe Down

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Lakewood Ranch Taxes Going Up ... or Maybe Down

Article excerpt

LAKEWOOD RANCH

If you reside in Lakewood Ranch, the part of your property tax bill that goes toward protecting, maintaining and enhancing your neighborhood could be increasing by an average of $317 or decreasing by about $144.

It all depends on your address.

Much of Lakewood Ranch, an area between State Road 70 and University Parkway, is divided into five "community development districts." The elected boards of those districts assess taxes and make decisions pertaining to almost every aspect of each district, from roads to gatehouses to parks and stormwater ponds.

Headquartered at Town Hall, the Inter-District Authority is the umbrella organization that provides the administration and staff to get tasks done for those CDDs. (Newer parts of Lakewood Ranch, such as Lake Club and Central Park, are in a separate tax district controlled by developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch.)

"We manage everything like it's one city," IDA executive director Eva Rey said.

Just as it is for county and municipal governments, it is budget time for the Lakewood Ranch CDDs and the Inter-District Authority.

Here is an overview of their upcoming spending plans.

Inter-District Authority

Area: All five CDDs.

Number of homes: 6,496

Taxes: The IDA has no taxing authority. The CDDs fund it.

Coming priorities: The IDA is considering a 5.4 percent budget increase, from $3.19 million to $3.36 million.

Its top issue is acquiring a wireless network offering "community- wide connectivity" for controlling irrigation, parks access, Town Hall access, gate access and more.

"This is taking us into the next generation (of technology)," chief financial officer Steven Zielinski said of what he and Rey call "a wireless canopy."

Employees are to get 1 percent "performance based" raises.

District 1

Area: Summerfield, Riverwalk.

Number of homes: 1,782

Taxes: Assessments will increase 0.7 percent or an average of $6. Currently, assessments in CDD 1 range from $738 to $1,218, depending on the neighborhood.

Coming priorities: A proposed 0.6 percent budget increase, from $1.79 million to $1.81 million, is largely attributed to irrigation, landscaping and technology improvements and debt service. …

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