Villages residents to weigh in on operation of services
Owners' association supports "no" vote; wants more resident control of amenities.
COURTESY : Ocala Star Banner
By HARRIET DANIELS
Published October 21, 2006

 

THE VILLAGES - The informal poll - by show of hands - taken at a recent meeting of the Villages Property Owners' Association may be an early indicator of how residents plan to vote regarding who governs their amenities fees.

In the room of about 100 residents, all raised their hands for the "No" vote, indicating they do not like the way they are charged for amenities.

 

POA President Joe Gorman expressed his surprise to the crowd, saying, "Most people I've talked to don't want to fool around with this, saying they like it just the way it is."

The group is among several resident organizations voicing opinions about the issue in hopes of impacting the Nov. 7 outcome at the polls, especially with early voting starting Monday in Marion County.

Residents at the meeting picked up fliers in favor of voting "No," several commenting that they have seen signs posted promoting a "Yes" vote.

Gorman said the Property Owners' Association is advocating the "No" vote.

"Yes, the developer has done a good job, but we have to separate the two things here . . . 

THE ISSUE:
The nonbinding referendum (straw ballot) regarding operational control of the Villages Center District on Nov. 7 for registered voters in The Villages. Vote:

YES: if you like the way amenity programs, facilities and services are currently being provided by The Villages Center District and would prefer they continue to be operated as they are now.

NO:if you prefer to change the way that amenity programs, facilities and services are being provided north of County Road 466 by creating a separate administrative entity by interlocal agreement among the numbered districts, Lake County and The Villages Center District.

construction/development activities and administrative/governmental activities," he said. "The governing activities is what we are most upset about and can challenge with this vote . . . it's taxation without representation."

  

Currently The Villages amenity system is controlled by commercial stakeholders who are elected by The Villages Center Community Development District. The amenity fees support recreation centers, Neighborhood Watch programs and executive golf courses. Registered voters in The Villages - including 7,050 in Marion County - will vote on whether they want the system to remain the same or want to push for resident involvement.

Richard Lambrecht, chairman of the District 4 (Marion County) Board of Supervisors, helped answer questions about the ballot issue at the meeting. He stressed that changing the system could possibly help ensure 100 percent of the amenity fees are used for recreation services and that a reserve fund is established for future maintenance.

"We have to have residents following every step of the way. It can only help," he said.

Following the meeting he told the Star-Banner, "The developer has sold all the homes north of 466, so there is no impetus to keep the amenities. We may not get another chance to have a say about this."

The straw ballot, however, is nonbinding - but Gorman is hopeful if voters voice their desire for change, that representatives - including residents - can negotiate an interlocal agreement to control the amenity program, facilities and services.

In concluding the meeting, Gorman shared with residents his belief that The Villages will evolve into a form of government resembling that of the cities and towns from which residents relocated.

"We could have supervisors elected from each area and even have a mayor . . . I think we are on the brink of some big changes," he said.

  
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