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WHAT THE HECK IS A CDD?

As Florida's population boomed, CDDs (which stand for Community Development District) were created to shift the burden of building roads and utility lines away from cash-starved municipal and county governments. The massive costs of building the infrastructure are financed by the developer with a key CDD incentive: tax-free municipal bonds.

The bonds pay for not only roads and utilities, but also amenities such as clubhouses, pools, tennis courts and golf courses that entice middle-class buyers yearning for a more lofty lifestyle. Rather than paying everything up front, homeowners pay the ultimate costs for the amenities over a span of 15 to 30 years.

A five-member CDD board, chosen by the developer, issues the bonds and levies taxes and assessments on the homeowners, who pay the added fees along with their county and city taxes. It is only when most of the homes in a development are sold, and all the crucial initial decisions have already been made, that homeowners can begin to sit on the board.

There's little downside for either politicians or developers. Elected officials get to add mammoth swaths of upscale homes that contribute to a government's tax base while bragging they did so without raising taxes to build or maintain the infrastructure that's needed. Developers bear little risk in borrowing millions of dollars, knowing that serious miscalculations can be covered by a generation of homeowners.

It's little wonder that CDDs have become the most popular development tool in Florida for new home construction. In the past four years alone, their numbers have more than doubled.

"Historically, local governments paid for roads with property taxes," said Douglas Buck, director of environmental affairs for the Florida Home Builders Association. "But they don't do that anymore. Developers don't have the deep pockets for those kinds of costs. So if you're talking about new home construction in large developments, the only way to finance it is with upfront cash or CDDs."

Q. Can I pay off my CDD assessment?

A. A: Yes, you can pay off the capital assessment on your property at any time, but not the O & M assessment

Q. What time period does the assessment cover?

A. A: CDD assessments are collected in advance.

Q. I paid off my CDD so why do I still have an assessment on my real estate tax bill?

A. The property continues to be subject to annual operating and maintenance (O & M) assessments for the maintenance of common improvements that the CDD provides. This assessment is subject to change annually with the adopted budget.

Q. What does the O & M pay for?

A. The O & M (operating and maintenance) assessment is an annual assessment for maintenance for common improvements within your community that the CDD provides. The services vary depending on which community you live in. For example, it may cover landscaping, street lights, guard facilities, roving patrol, storm water management, etc., or it may only include a few of the services listed above.

 


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