Keep the Dream Alive…United Community Development Districts Ensure that The Villages® is Better Together!
Have you ever noticed a visual difference between communities or neighborhoods as you travel across the state or country? Some are uniformly well maintained with solid, well-planned and executed infrastructure and good roads, are beautifully landscaped, have no trash, etc.…they just have that “great feel” of being someplace you would consider calling “home”. Others appear just the opposite…are poorly maintained, roads are in disrepair, and there is little in the way of solid infrastructure planning and execution, etc. Certainly, they don’t feel like a place you would want to live or retire.
How a community looks or feels begins with a local government that plans well and executes that plan in a professional manner. When you first come to The Villages it is hard to miss how smartly planned and well maintained our community is. So, it is always amazing to us how some people, who were so impressed by The Villages and chose to make it their home, begin trying to change it. We are particularly struck by those who look at our District Government and want to change the professional manner in which they manage our community and maintain our property values.
Here’s a question: When you decided to retire to The Villages, did you make that decision based on which Community Development District (CDD) you were going to reside in? Did you even know that The Villages was governed under a CDD structure? We suspect the answer is NO. You probably made that decision based on your first impressions about how well this community is maintained and the lifestyle it offers, regardless of location.
This community is consistently beautiful. That does not happen by chance. Our District Government, along with the 13 residential Community Development Districts, continues to offer and maintain what we initially valued in choosing to live here, as well as protecting the value of our homes. It’s easy to take all of that work for granted.
If you are like most Villagers, you don’t keep track of the day-to-day activities of our CDDs. Part of their mission is to provide a setting where we don’t have to worry about such things. We came here to retire and enjoy our retirement years with the active lifestyle afforded by The Villages. We are able to do that because this CDD form of local governance works extremely well. The quality of our community, which has been sustained for over four decades now, is proof of what works! Our increase in property values bears further witness to the efficiency of this model form of local governance along with the continued strong demand to live here.
There is no place like The Villages! Each District shares in the cost of running and maintaining The Villages. The efficiencies and effectiveness of a common staff that covers administration, finance, procurement, recreation, investments, legal and infrastructure costs and maintenance across all of the Districts makes good common and economic sense. To try replicating those services independently over 13 Districts would be extremely cost prohibitive and inevitably lead to a disjointed community
Planning and execution by our District government for the common good across all of The Villages Districts works extremely well. If each numbered District made independent decisions around today’s common services and infrastructure, there would probably be visual differences as you traveled between CDD’s that could dramatically affect the long-term value of properties throughout The Villages. Because we are “Better Together” we maintain, as an example, all of our recreation facilities to the same high standards. Likewise, we manage all of our capital investments to that same common high standard. Our multimodal trails and tunnels are well maintained and there is standard signage across all districts. Each district, and therefore each resident, shares equally in the cost to maintain these standards.
When we each purchased our home, we also made the commitment to continue to maintain that investment with our annual maintenance fees. We all have a vested interest in maintaining the value of what we have here.
So, what happens if one CDD decides they want to “do their own thing”. Well, in our opinion, the common community fabric that we all currently enjoy, will start to unravel! Take the current recent example of District 7 supervisors. They hired their own attorney so they can challenge the agreement they made to be part of the Project Wide Advisory Committee and share in the risks and costs of maintaining our infrastructure among Districts 5 through 13. Costs, once shared by 9 districts, may now be shared by one less district, and the remaining shared costs may become higher because one district decided to go it alone. The costs to the residents of that one district will increase, and the services they receive for that increased cost may decline. All of this potentially places the value of your home at risk.
This is all about Risk Management. Remember, we said we were “Better Together”. If you were here during Hurricane Irma, you certainly noticed how some of our Championship golf courses became inundated with storm water, resulting in massive ponds of water on those courses. That happened by design, and not by accident. These sites, commercial golf courses, were designed and built to handle storm water runoff, and ensure that individual residential properties were not impacted during hurricane-like events. This storm water didn’t stay within individual CDD boundaries. It crossed over between a number of districts into a common, well-planned, storm-water management system designed to protect us all from any catastrophic flooding. (Can you imagine what the cost would be if every district had to plan and build a storm water system that was self-contained within the boundaries of only that district?) This is just one example of being “Better Together”.
Maybe it is also why we are referred to as a Master PLANNED Community. So, when you hear or see your CDD supervisors deciding to move away from our normal governance processes and take a different, independent track, you really need to question them about their intent. Is this for the common good? Will this change or impact our lifestyle long-term? Will it impact the long-term beauty of The Villages community, the very thing that first attracted many of us to this community? And, finally, what does this all mean to the long-term value of your property?
It is time to pay attention and understand that it is not just about the desire and actions of a single district, but the impact on our community fabric and the investment we’ve ALL made here. We have been extremely successful as a community – with a District Government and Community Development Districts working for all of us. WE ARE BETTER TOGETHER!