District challenges status quo
Chairman says he’s tired of his commission acting

as rubber stamp for Villages developer

COURTESY : Daily Commercial
By Megan Shannon
Published January 31, 2006


THE VILLAGES - THE VILLAGES — The chairman of The Villages Community Development District 4 is tired of his board rubber-stamping everything that comes from the center district.

District 4 supervisors on Friday voted to support Chairman Rich Lambrecht in questioning the way The Villages operates and whether taxpayers are being treated fairly.

As Lambrecht began researching the respective financial responsibilities of the district and The Villages of Lake Sumter Inc. late last year, he said he stumbled upon some questions that the District 4 board can no longer ignore.

“We have an obligation to spend the taxpayers’ money appropriately,” he said.

The Village Center Community Development District board governs the commercial district north of County Road 466. Its board is elected by The Villages of Lake-Sumter Inc. and the owners of the commercial properties in the district.

The VCCDD also provides contractual services to residents in the four community development districts north of C.R. 466. Residents pay fees both to the center district and to their district’s CDD for services. How those assessments are spent is the source of Lambrecht’s concerns.

The District 4 board of supervisors was originally chosen by The Villages developer, but as the properties in the district became increasingly resident-owned, residents voted for a larger number of the supervisors. The last two developer-elected supervisors resigned in December. Lambrecht said the District 4 board is still acting as it did when it was developer-elected. Meetings last only 15 minutes, he said, because the supervisors approve anything that comes their way.

“We need to make more informed decisions,” he said.

Lambrecht has been on the board for a little more than one year. He said as he learned how things worked in The Villages, he began to question how some things are funded.

The supervisors agreed Friday to submit questions relating to the creation of District 4, sinkholes, retention pond creation and expense, current beneficiaries of the district’s stormwater system and the origins of the easement agreement that charges residents of that district with the creation, construction and maintenance of retention ponds.

The questions dig into the District 4 board history of approvals to see why some decisions were made, like the board’s decision to create wet ponds versus dry ponds, which Lambrecht found are considerably less expensive. That decision was made when the board was still developer-elected.

“We want to make sure the taxpayers’ money was spent wisely and will be in the future,” Lambrecht said.

The District 4 board requested that staff have detailed answers to their questions by their February meeting so they can set up a March workshop to inform the board and the residents.

District Manager Pete Wahl, who oversees the VCCDD and its counterpart, the Sumter Landing Community Development District, said he would not have time to answer the questions in detail but promised a progress report.