Boca Raton: Boca’s talk of annexing subdivisions upsets beach-park district officials

By Steve Plunkett

    Talk of the city annexing five subdivisions north of Clint Moore Road has the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District crying foul.
    District commissioners were already chafed by the 2013 annexation of the Royal Palm polo grounds, which also are north of Clint Moore Road and outside district boundaries. Royal Palm polo residents are able to use beach and park district facilities but do not pay beach and park taxes.
    “It is unfair to tax some people and not others. Whatever it takes to make it fair to everyone is what needs to be done,” District Commissioner Dennis Frisch said.
    The Boca Raton City Council heard a preliminary analysis of the possible annexation of Le Lac, Azura, Fieldbrook Estates, Boniello Acres and Newport Bay at its May 9 workshop session. Combined, the 435 residences in the neighborhoods would bring in an additional $505,567 in city taxes, Deputy City Manager George Brown said.
    Arthur Koski, the beach and park district’s interim executive director, estimated that the Royal Palm annexation, with a planned 247 homes, would mean about $250,000 a year in unpaid district taxes when built out. A buyer paid $2.2 million for the first residence there in December, according to county property appraiser records.
    “This is not small change,” Commissioner Earl Starkoff said, adding that the missing revenues over 10 years would pay for most of a beach renourishment project.
    The five targeted neighborhoods would bring the district about $277,000 a year in taxes if the new residents also become part of the district. But if not, they too will get free use of beach and park facilities.
    “It would seem to me, simply, that all the existing city residents and the existing district residents would be subsidizing those annexed citizens as they come into the city. Everyone else would be paying the [$1 per $1,000 of taxable value] to the district except for these annexed citizens,” Koski said.
     Koski also said that if the annexed residents were to pay district taxes, existing residents might see a tax decrease. But changing the district’s boundaries is not a simple task; it requires a state legislative act, and city officials must give their approval first.
    Commissioners told Koski to write the City Council and ask its members to support a change to the district’s legislation to include newly annexed areas. Frisch said to also request that they consider the matter at their June 14 meeting since the council meets less frequently in the summer.
    “If we get a letter there next week and it doesn’t get put on until the July or August agenda, it defeats our purpose of making things go,” Frisch said

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