Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel
Published May 8,
Almost one-third of the
money designated for programs to help educate condo owners and pay for
enforcement of condo laws will be diverted for unrelated state expenses as
a result of the current budget crunch.
The $66.2 billion state budget approved last week by the Legislature
includes $10 million from the condo trust fund, according to Thomas
Philpot, a spokesman for .Gov. Charlie Crist
The state created the trust fund so condo owners, not other taxpayers,
would pay for condo services.
Money comes from the $4 annual fee each unit owner pays the state via his
and her association, or about $5.6 million a year based on 1.4 million
units. Money also comes from fees charged developers when they build
condos and fines paid by associations that violate condo laws.
The trust fund currently
contains about $29 million, about $7 million of which is used for
investigators and accountants to review complaints by owners, educational
programs for owners and the condo ombudsman. The rest is held in reserve.
"The $10 million trust fund sweep will not have a negative
impact" on state services to condos, according to Michael Cochran,
director of the Division of Florida Land Sales, Condominiums & Mobile
Homes, the agency that regulates condos.
In January, Crist had proposed taking $20 million from the fund to help
pay for other state programs.
Jan Bergemann, president of Deland-based Cyber Citizens for Justice, a
volunteer organization that helps unit owners, called it wrong to have so
much condo money in reserve.
"There shouldn't be a surplus. The money should have been used for
the purpose intended — protection of condo owners," he said.