By: Sharon Aron Baron
Homeowners who asked the city for help for their Neighborhood Improvement District got more than they bargained for at a recent commission meeting.
Instead of the city approving the floundering district’s efforts to have the City Commission become the Board of Directors and establishing an Advisory Council consisting of Homeowners, Mayor Harry Dressler and three other commissioners not only refused to set up the district this way, but made a motion to dissolve the district entirely over the objections of our City Commissioner Michelle Gomez.
The way that the board wanted the district to be set up was the way almost all Districts throughout the state are typically set up, and have been run successfully in places such as Lauderhill which has four successful districts.
“It has not only been very successful in Lauderhill but of great benefit as well,” said Lauderhill Mayor Richard Kaplan.
Without it [Safe Neighborhood Districts] we would not have been able to solve several ongoing problems we have had in certain neighborhoods since we had no other available funding and/or authority to complete needed projects. It also gave the district voters local control and say of their own situation. – Lauderhill Mayor Richard Kaplan.
This would be The City of Tamarac’s first and last Safe Neighborhood District unless the Mayor along with Commissioners Diane Glasser, Pamela Bushnell and Debra Placko decide to table it at the February 25 meeting.
The Woodlands Safe Neighborhood district was created by the City in 2010. The purpose of the District was to create a taxing district for all the Woodlands sections and Laurel Circle. There are currently some sections that are not part of the WHOA, so they do not contribute to WHOA for improvements or security measures. A taxing district which would have made every home responsible for payment of improvements despite their individual HOA governing documents was going to help improve property values in the long run according to a report prepared by the City’s former Community Development Director, Jennifer Bromley.
There have been many issues since the WNID was formed, mainly due to the way it was set up and the oversight by the city. Besides the fact that the board was never able to get it off the ground, the City had to deal with an expensive lawsuit brought by Woodlands resident Pat Barsorian.
Then when the members of the WNID board asked the city for Law Enforcement Trust Funds to help fund a study by a professional for a redevelopment plan, the City said no. There were $318,929.00 in State and Federal dollars that were earmarked for Safe Neighborhood Districts and other items, however, the City refused to spend any of this money towards the district.
In January, City Commissioner Michelle Gomez asked the commission to table any decisions regarding the district because only registered voters can vote on a referendum – not property owners, and she wanted to wait until he legislative session to see if this would be modified. Dressler did not want to wait any longer, he was agitated by the four long years and City staff time that had been utilized in assisting the board with it and wanted to see it dissolved.
During an emergency meeting held by the WNID on February 16th, the importance of the district was explained,that there was an approximately 12 percent delinquency rate across the community, and there were areas that were not obligated to contribute toward security. The district was the only way to get a 100 percent collection rate on funds owed because the District funds would appear on resident’s tax bills. Gomez has asked her colleagues not to vote on this until after the legislative session until this could have been changed. She hopes that at the February 25th City Commission meeting, this item will be tabled until after the state Legislative session is over.
The February 25th meeting will be held at 9:00 a,m. at City Hall 7525 NW 88th Ave Tamarac, FL 33321.