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Scott Orders Review of Special Taxing Districts Like Grand Haven, Dunes and Every CRA

| January 13, 2012

Under review.

Gov. Rick Scott’s budget office will make a comprehensive review of special taxing districts and make recommendations for cutting costs and “introducing accountability.”

Scott issued an executive order Thursday ordering the review – similar to a months-long review undertaken by a special commission looking at public hospitals and another look at water management districts. Those special taxing districts won’t be included.

“A major factor in our goal of lowering the cost of living for Floridians are the roughly 1,600 special districts in Florida which bring in more than $15 billion in taxpayer-funded revenues each year,” Scott said in a statement accompanying the executive order. “Floridians have a right to know what they’re being taxed for and how that money is spent. This review will bring to light these questions and allow us to identify ways to save taxpayers money and increase accountability.”

Flagler County has 14 special taxing districts, including every so-called “community redevelopment agency,” or CRA, such as Palm Coast’s Town Center. Most of the revenue generated from taxes in a CRA remains in the CRA, which means, for example, that Town Center revenue is (beyond a certain baseline) not shared with the rest of the city or the county. The same principle applies in special taxing districts such as Grand Haven, the big gated community along Colbert Lane, or the Dunes Community Development District. Those communities are governments within governments, running their communities with elected governing boards that administer tax revenue. Some do it better or more transparently than others.

Scott’s office said the districts would be reviewed to see whether they serve the purpose for which they were created, whether they’re being efficiently governed, are accountable to taxpayers, are operating transparently and prudently spending tax money, among other issues.

“With such a significant impact on the lives of every Floridian and our economy, it is critical that we get a firm grasp on how these special districts are operating and hold them accountable,” Scott said.’

The state Department of Economic Opportunity says there are 1,634 special districts, though 16 are inactive. Their functions range from running airports and financing affordable housing the management of utilities and wastewater systems. Soil and water conservation districts, for example, of which there are 63 in the state, are types of special taxing districts.

The governor ordered his Office of Policy and Budget to report back to him on what it finds, though he didn’t set out a deadline for the report.

Scott’s office had telegraphed the planned review late last year. In December, Jerry McDaniel, Scott’s budget director, told a Senate committee that the governor was working on the executive order to start examining the myriad types of local districts.

“If it’s anything like what we found with water-management districts, certain practices should stop and we just need to understand it better,” McDaniel said then.

The districts say they welcome the review, because they believe it will show they’re needed and efficient.

“We agree that a thorough review of all state programs, taxes and government bodies is often needed, and we welcome a fact-based discussion regarding Special Districts,” Florida Association of Special Districts President Clete Saunier said in a statement responding to the order. “We believe that the review by the Governor’s Office of Policy and Budget will affirm that Special Districts are fiscally responsible, community-focused local government entities that have a clear and specific purpose in our communities.

“Special Districts have always demonstrated strong levels of accountability to protect taxpayer dollars and remain steadfast in their mission to address specific community needs, and provide and maintain infrastructure and service needs that are important for area residents,” Saunier said.

Florida has two kinds of special districts – independent ones, which are sometimes elected, and which collect taxes or assess fees and spend them without any oversight of a city or county, and dependent ones that essentially operate as an arm of a city or county, or a state agency.

Sometimes they fill a need that local residents want, that other government entities won’t Saunier said.

“Central to the discussions that will take place throughout the review should be that Special Districts are created upon public demand, and help Floridians when local or state governments were either unable or unwilling to provide crucial services or infrastructure to a community,” Saunier said. “As the review gets underway, we look forward to working closely with the Governor and his team to show Floridians how their tax dollars are being put to good use every day.”

–David Royce, News Service of Florida, and FlaglerLive

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9 Responses for “Scott Orders Review of Special Taxing Districts Like Grand Haven, Dunes and Every CRA”

  1. Kip Durocher says:

    “Glow” Scott aka Governor Zero again threatens other elected bodies
    in an obvious attempt to make them beholden to him.
    This clown gets wood thinking of himself in the White House.
    He is for sure a one term wonder ~ even many conservatives
    are growing sick of him and his blatant crony capitalism0.
    He ended Bunnell’s DOT contact and outsourced the jobs
    to cronies in Virginia. Good for Florida or his friends?
    That was one of hundreds.

  2. palmcoastpioneers says:

    Question for Palm Coaster or Anyone: Are ALL the many ‘Communities of Palm Coast’ each a “Special Taxing Districts’ like the ‘Palm Coast Community of Grand Haven’?
    Palm Coast is a community of communities. Eleven, to be exact. And each, from the pine forests of Seminole Woods to the waterways of Palm Harbor, has distinct virtues making it a special place to live. Yet collectively, they fly under the same banner, and that’s what sets them apart from the rest of Florida. They all are part of Palm Coast, “one of the finest planned communities in the United States.”. The Palm Coast liefestyle is what unites them. The golf courses, tennis clubs, swim clubs, marina and other Palm Coast amenities make every homesite in every community a prime location. In fact, there is a wide variety of choice homesites still available throughout Palm Coast. In Pine Lakes, with its country club. In Belle Terre, where the swim and racquet club and Belle Terre Middle School are located. In Matanzas Woods, where the new Arnold Palmer-designed golf course will be completed in 1985. In Seminole Woods, within five miles of the high school and the cities of Flagler Beach and Bunnell. In fact, some of the best homesites in Palm Coast are still for sale. ITT Community Development Corporation makes the decision to purchase the homesite less difficult. There are ffinancing choices to suit almost any budget. Talk to a Palm Coast land sales representative to find out more, at 1.800.874.1828, in Florida, 904.445.3411, or at your nearest Palm Coast sales office. In the meantime, here’s a quick look at the diverse communities that are Palm Coast:

    Belle Terre -Site of the First Palm Coast Triathlon, the Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club, with tennis courts, heated 50 meter pool, Nautilus room and Fitness Trail, is a focal pint of this community west of I 95, where the modern Belle Terre Middle School opened in 1982. Forested homesites compliment beautiful homes.

    Cypress Knoll – The site of Palm Coast’s fourth golf course, to be completed in 1990, Cypress Knoll borders Highway 100 and Belle Terre Parkway. Near Flagler Palm Coast High School, homesites here offer convenient access to Flagler County’s other major towns, Bunnell and Flagler Beach, and to the amenities of Pine Lakes and Belle Terre.

    Grand haven – Grand Haven is the community of The Woodlands neighborhood, home of Tennis Pro Tom Gullikson and family, and Woodhaven Condominiums. Its 3,500 acre conservation area borders the Old Kings Road entrance to Palm Coast east of I 95, one of the most beautiful travel routes in the community.

    Indian Trails.- One of Palm Coast’s fastest growing communities, Indian Trails is north of St. Joe Road, west of I 95. The beautiful new Methodist Church is here, and Palm Coast’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) designates three school sites in the community. Indian Trails’ entrance is within two miles of the Palm Harbor Shopping Center, even closer to Pine Lakes Couontry Club.

    Lehigh Woods – Just south of the Pine Lakes Community, Lehigh Woods homesites are within four miles of the country club and Belle Terr’s swim and racquet club, as well as Highway 100. the quickest route to Flagler’s beautiful beaches.

    Matanzas Woods – In 1985, Matanzas Woods will be home to Palm Coast’s third golf course, once again a design of Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay, who worked their magic at Pine Lakes Country Club. Matazas Woods is the Palm Coast community closet to the entertainment and atmosphere of the oldest city, St. Augustine, less than 25 miles north.

    PALM HARBOR – At the heart of Palm Coast, Palm Harbor, contains homesites bordered by 23 miles of salt water canals, and many of Palm Coast’s community facilities, including the shopping center, Marina, Tennis Club, Harbour Restaurant, Community Center, professional office park and Palm Harbor Golf Club, home course of LPGA star Nancy Lopez.

    Pine Grove – To the south of the Belle Terre community. Pine Grove homesites offer the same advantages as those in Lehigh Woods – close proximity to the amenities of Pine Lakes and Belle Terre and to Highway 100, Flagler County’s main transportation artery that ends at the Atlantic Ocean.

    Pine Lakes – Home to the elegant Pine Lakes Country Club and its Arnold Palmer designed championship course, Pine Lakes also offers some of Palm Coast’s most beautiful homes, including the popular villas and new models coming in 1984.

    Palm Coast Area Map

    1. Matanzas Woods

    2. Indian Trails

    3. Pine Lakes

    4. Lehigh Woods

    5. Cypress Knoll

    6. Quail Hollow

    7. Palm Harbor

    8. Grand Haven

    (The Woodlands)

    9. Belle Terre

    10. Pine Grove

    11. Seminole Woods

    Quail Hollow – Site of the new Flagler County Council on Aging headquarters, Quail Hollow is a beautiful community south of Highway 100, where less that two miles east are the Flagler County Airport and Flagler Palm Coast High School. Bordering U.S. 1, Quail Hollow offers homesites that make quick trips to Daytona Beach even quicker.

    Seminole Woods – Also south of Highway 100 and due east of Quail Hollow, Seminole Woods is the Palm Coast community whose entrance is within four miles of the Arlantic Ocean. The wooded homesites here, as in Quail Hollow, are close to Daytona beach, yet less than ten miles from the attractions of the communiity there are a part of – Palm Coast.

    Wherever you’ve purchased or decide to purchase in the future, you can rest easy knowing there’s a beautiful piece of Palm Coast waiting for you. And Palm Coast is Florida at her finest.

    *Florida Builder 1982

    News for Current Homesite Owners

    If you already own a homesite purchased from ICDC, and you’re ready to build with Palm Coast Construction Company, take advantage of Palm Coast’s Exchange Prilileg Program. You can trade in your homesite for a house/lot package elsewhere and receive credit toward your home purchase. Get all the details by contacting your nearest Palm Coast Inc. sales office or calling toll-free 1.800.874.1828. It could be the best move you make in your life.

    Thank you very much for your reply.

  3. palmcoaster says:

    @ Pioneers. None of the neighborhoods mentioned by you have their own Tax Districts, except Grand Haven. Only the ones mentioned by Flagler Live in this report have their own Tax Districts and Governance Boards.
    We do not have yet a Hospital Tax District but sure not for lack of trying already by Florida Hospital Flagler.
    The Halifax Hospital tax district is very expensive for Volusia tax payers. Tough supposedly to cover for the uninsured and indigent treated there…in past years have paid for lavish party’s and gifts in supposedly (pat each other on the back) appreciation quasi fund raising events, highly and publicly criticized. Also past auditing of the hospital spending, forced the firing of some administrators. No wonder our Halifax Tax District bill is so high. But Rick Scott found no wrong doing on his mandate review of Hospitals and Water Tax Districts so far, he exempted them from further monitoring…With his background of course…
    What reported by Flagler Live here …very accurate so far. Should appreciate to Flagler Live.

  4. Doug Chozianin says:

    I like periodic comprehensive reviews (audits) of special taxing districts (in fact, all government programs) with recommendations for cutting costs and “introducing accountability.”

    Why wasn’t there “accountability” from the onset??? Government needs to run itself like a business.

    Go Romney

  5. palmcoastpioneers says:

    @Palm Coaster – Thank you very much for your reply; it is truly much appreciated. But…how come out of all the many ‘Communities of Palm Coast’, the ‘Palm Coast Community of Grand Haven’ acreage within the 93,000 acres of Palm Coast Community Lands and the ‘Palm Coast Community of Hammock Dunes ‘ acreage also within the 93,000 acres of Palm Coast Community Lands have special taxing but all the other ‘Palm Coast Communities’ don’t?
    It is perplexing expecially since even the Federal Investigators mention ALL the Communities of Palm Coast, Inc.
    ‘…2…for a period of fifteen (15) years after the service upon respondents of this order,….respondents shall limit and restrict the development presently known as Palm Coast and consisting of approximately 93,0000 acres, to a maximum of approximately 48,000 registered lots in a maximum of 42,000 acres,….and, accordingly, respondents shall neither register any lots nor sell any registered lots in the balance of such approximately 93,000 acres….’
    .’…After this matter was assigned to the Division of Enforcement, staff reviewed existing files and upon discussing the matter with respondents counsel discovered that the previously requested ADA/DRI application had never been forwarded to the ARO. Therefore, we again made the request. Staff will review the ADA/DRI application, as well as the Comprehensive Land Use Plan CLUP, and existing maps of the area at or prior to the time the order was issued, and conduct discussions with knowledgeable persons to determine whether Hammock Dunes, as well as the five or six other developments east of the Intracoastal Waterway, fall within the restricted 42,000 acres. The company maintains that all of these developments are within the permitted acreage. They also maintain that by deplating lots within the original Palm Coast subdivision, they have been able to register lots in Hammock Dunes, etc. and still stay within the order’s proscribed cap of 48,000 registered residential lots.
    Thank you very much for any insight you can provide.

  6. Palmcoasterer says:


    The Grand Haven community you are thinking about is not the same as Grand Haven. The former is the area of Palm Coast located between Old Kings Rd S and Colbert Ln. Most people who have been here for any length of time know this area as the “original B-section”. The Grand Haven that is a Special Tax District is the golfcourse community located between Colbert Ln. and the ICW.

    • palmcoastpioneers says:

      @PalmCoaster – it originally was offered as not private by I.T.T. as ‘River Junction ‘ or something named similar like that hence another Section within the ‘Palm Coast Community of Grand Haven’ all within the total 93,000 acres of Palm Coast Community Lands all within Palm Coast, Inc.
      This ‘River Junction’ or whatever it is called was near/ adjacent to some massive Hunting Lodge acreage which as explained to us was part of the massive 15,000 acres of ‘Green Enclaves’ that Palm Coast, Inc. is supposed to have. Do the 15,000 acres of ‘Green Enclaves’ still exist ?
      Tho’ what is perplexing is how come some *acreage* within the total 93,000 acres of Palm Coast Community Lands are special tax and others aren’t.
      See: ‘ …15,000 acres of Green Enclaves…’ for Palm Coast, Inc.

      Palm Coast is a new community being developed by ITT Community Development Corporation..With over five miles of ocean beach along Florida’s Atlantic coast, ….

      The Palm Club, a condominium , is now part of the excitement at Palm Coast, Florida.

      Palm Coast is a new community being developed by ITT Community Development Corporation. With over five miles of ocean beach along Florida’s Atlantic coast, it is just 43 miles from historic St. Augustine and 24 miles from the modern growing city of Daytona Beach.
      Recreation and social activities abound at Palm Coast. In addition to miles of Atlantic shoreline, Palm Coast has more than 17 miles along the Intracoastal Waterway and numerous streams, ponds and lakes. All this makes for excellent swimming , boating and bountiful salt and fresh water fishing. Palm Coast’s championship 18 – hole golf course and tennis courts are available as well as its yacht club and marina. ( Membership rates ad fees for recreational facilities are available on request). Temperatures are moderate, with a daily average of 60 in December and 80 in July.
      There’s plenty going on around Palm Coast, too. Daytona Beach has its renowned auto racing speedway, jai alai and dog racing. restaurants and night clubs. Marineland, with its famous aquarium and show, is just 23 miles away.
      For those interested in cultural pursuits, St. Augustine, the oldest city in the United States, features an area restored to its appearance in Spanish times. Both St. Augustine and Daytona Beach offer museums and historical sites, concerts by symphony orchestras and leading artists, and touring ballet and theatre.
      Palm Coast is a community where plans and protections will help growth occur on an ecologically sound basis, with fresh air, 15,000 Acres of green enclaves, and low population densities. With its climate, access by air, train and auto, and many recreational facilities, Palm Coast proves an ideal location for meetings, vacations, and year ’round living.
      PO 603. This offer is not valid in the State of New York nor any other state where prohibited by law
      This is all indeed very perplexing –

  7. palmcoaster says:

    Dear Pioneer..I want to make clear that there is now a “Palmcoasterer” that is not me; Palmcoaster. Though Palmcoasterer is correct the Grand Haven with its own tax district and governance board is the only Grand Haven Golf Community we all know with two access gates in Colbert Lane, runs East all the way to the Intracoastal.
    Regarding the reasons for that one and the Hammock Dunes and other residential developments within Palm Coast having their own taxing districts…I have no idea. Sure the developers had something to do with it and required it to be designated as such. Probably Michael Chiumento knows about it. Maybe because the development was built and funded with bonds…? Some info points as a reason, to keep taxes low.. Realisticly I doubt it. Probably also Jay Gardner our excellent Tax Appraisser knows, as his Dad was the ITT #1, in ICDC (ITT Community Development Corporation) .The next link may shed some light on why residential tax districts are created in Florida. I haven’t read it myself yet…

  8. palmcoaster says:

    The only one district auditing that I welcome from Rick Scott is the Mosquito District…because since the last 5 years I don’t know what they do with our mosquito spraying. The spraying trucks only come around if we complain and the story from the City of Palm Coast is that they are told that the spraying is from the air now….and they have no control as is a state jurisdiction? Meanwhile mosquitos eat us alive and flies are getting to be unbearable in late spring summer and the first part of fall. Even while dinning in the outdoors in the beach side, mosquitos and flies ruin your meal. Sure didn’t use to be like this, when ITT was here. Where is the spray we pay for…do they drink it or someone found out that can get high on it?

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