POINCIANA – County governments put together budgets every fiscal year, and often hold public workshops so residents can review it and make comments before commissioners vote on the proposal.
They’re not alone. In a state where millions of Floridians live in residential subdivisions, condominium complexes and mixed use facilities governed by homeowners associations, there are similar budget workshops – including one for the residents of an entire community in Central Florida that also happens to be governed by an HOA.
Poinciana is made up of 10 villages in a huge geographic area divided by two counties, Polk and Osceola. The residents of those villages follow the rules and guidelines set by an HOA known as the Association of Poinciana Villages Inc. Its manager, Jeanette R. Coughenour, said the entire concept of HOAs was likely encouraged by the state and by counties governments as a way to get a private entity to help address the demand for services in fast-growing, newly built communities.
“I think they are something that was encouraged by the state and especially encouraged by counties, because if you didn’t have HOAs, there would be more burdens placed on counties,” she said. “There definitely would be more people asking for the services that HOAs provide.”
The APV will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 6 p.m. at the Community Center on Marigold Avenue to let residents review the association’s proposed budget for next year.
“It’s to kind of discuss it in an open forum,” Coughenour said. “If people want to make comments, that’s another opportunity. We’ve asked for input in the past, and gotten it.”
Although the fiscal year for county government runs from Oct. 1 through the following June, the APV’s fiscal year runs from Jan. 1 through Dec. 1.
“Ours is just like a regular year,” Coughenour said.
The proposed APV budget goes to the association’s board of directors for a final vote on Oct. 11, at a public hearing that starts at 9 a.m.
“We’re having the budget presentation (this month) because if something needs to be tweaked, that gives us a couple of weeks before the October vote,” Coughenour said. “If the board approves it on October 11 — and we hope they will — then we need time to gear up for whatever that finalized budget is so we can get the bills in the mail by Thanksgiving, so people can hopefully pay their bill and take advantage of a $5 discount.”
That’s a discount for those who pay their annual association fees early, she said.
“That’s if the board approves it,” she said. “We’re going to request it once again.”
Coughenour said the APV budget for next year has gone up “slightly,” in part because the association invested this year in improved recreational services. That includes a new football field – the community’s first – at Vance Harmon Park, and a new Boys & Girls Club Teen Center on Marigold Avenue. The APV needs the increased funding for the long-term maintenance costs of both projects.
“Those are the kinds of things included in the budget this time,” Coughenour said. “This year we’ll have a heavy impact because of the parks and recreation areas that need to be maintained. As a result, the budget went up slightly, but it hasn’t gone up appreciably in the past five years. For several years, we stayed the same.”
Coughenour noted that residents pay a flat fee, which does not go up – as property taxes do – when the value of their home rises. Property taxes go to the counties, not the APV, to fund county-operated services like police and fire protection.
“Ours in not like a tax,” she said. “When taxes were going up for residents because their home values were increasing, their taxes went up. Ours is not based on value. It’s a flat fee.”
It also doesn’t apply to everyone – rather, it applies mainly to homeowners.
“If you are a state or federal operation, or a county operation, you’re not subject to HOA fees,” she said. “The developer doesn’t pay that fee. The library doesn’t pay.”
Unfortunately, she added, the APV also has to factor in that a certain number of Poinciana homeowners simply won’t pay their HOA fees.
“You have to build in a delinquency factor,” she said. “We budgeted for a 15 percent delinquency (rate) this year. It’s not a perfect world, obviously.”
To learn more, call the APV at 863-427-0900 or visit their office at 401 Walnut St. in Poinciana.
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