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AMSCD Adopts New Method for Calculating Assessments

Ave Maria residents will see a change in their annual assessments from the Ave Maria Stewardship Community District in their next tax bill – the first increase in the community's 10-year history.

The special assessments for the district, which are billed along with Collier County property taxes each fall, will be going up by $26 per household because of a change in the way the operations and maintenance (O&M) component of the assessment is calculated.

The change was needed, said Barron Collier Vice President David Genson at the AMSCD meeting Tuesday, because of changes in the projections for Ave Maria's land use at the community's build out. "We have a better understanding now of what the plan will be," he said, cautioning that more changes may well occur.

The change brings the O&M assessment back to the level it was when first residents moved in after the town opened in 2007. It was lowered soon after when the housing crisis stalled development.

Among the changes projected at build out since the original plan for Ave Maria was approved by Collier County in 2005:

- 600,000 square feet of light manufacturing space was added
- 718 rental apartment units were added
- the number of hotel rooms was reduced to 300 from 400
- the number of affordable housing dwelling units was reduced to 48 from 900
- the student population of Ave Maria University was reduced to 3,000 from 6,000
- the number of K-12 students at schools in Ave Maria was reduced to 900 from 2,400

The AMSCD assessments have two components. One is an assessment to service the debt on bonds used to finance infrastructure in Ave Maria and the other is for O&M.

In other matters:

- Mr. Genson provided an update on the discussions to build a permanent facility in Ave Maria for Fire, EMS and, eventually, the Collier County Sheriff's Office. He said there are meetings planned with the county manager and county attorney, along with County Commissioner Bill McDaniel, to try to resolve an impasse over how – if at all – the developers should be compensated for the land that is set aside for the buildings. The founding documents of Ave Maria stipulate that the developers should must provide three acres of land for the facilities but does not spell out the terms. The county's position is that the land should be provided at no cost. The developers say that they are entitled to compensation for the land, which is fully serviced. The Immokalee Fire Control District wants to proceed as quickly as possible and has agreed to compensation in the form of impact fee credits for its portion of the land.

- Mr. Genson said the county approved signage posting golf cart regulations but has asked for more specifics on the locations of the signs.

- District engineers recommended new material be put in to underlay parts of the roundabout at Milano and Ave Maria Blvd. to make it more resistant to damage from trucks that jump the curb. The board voted to proceed with the project and have Chairman Tom Peek, an engineer, review plans before they are submitted to the county. The golf cart signage will also be part of the submission.

- The board reviewed a proposed budget for the next fiscal year and set Aug. 8 as the date for its next meeting at which there will be a formal review and a public hearing.

- District Manager Todd Wodraska agreed to look into a suggestion from board member Robb Klucik to livestream meetings on the internet. Mr. Klucik also suggested holding some meetings in the evening, which will be discussed at a later meeting when the meeting schedule for 2018 is set.

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