A Sense of Accomplishment
by Richard Baier, P.E., LEED AP, District Manager
The Holidays have officially started, and as we rapidly approach the end of 2021, I reflect on all I am grateful for and how fortunate I am to work with such a dedicated and talented group of individuals within The Villages District Government. The team and I have had many accomplishments this year as we focused on Efficiency and Effectiveness, Customer Service and Community, Utilities and Growth, Technology, Recreation, and Executive Golf just to name a few.
Some of the biggest accomplishments were in the Utility sector. The North Sumter County Dependent District (NSCUDD) Board of Directors purchased property to relocate Sumter Sanitation to a permanent site. NSCUDD refunded Sumter Sanitation Series Bonds 2012 with a forward delivery agreement to be funded October 2022 representing a Net Present Value (NPV) savings of ~ 24% or ~ $15MM. Also, NSCUDD entered into an agreement to purchase Sumter Water Conservation Authority (SWCA). The Village Center Community Development District (VCCDD) Board of Supervisors has purchased a fueling station to allow fuel to be purchased in bulk through a procurement process for use by the white fleet, public safety fleet, and sanitation fleet. The direct bulk purchase of fuel will allow for savings by purchasing direct from vendors providing fuel from the port or utilizing state contacts. Also, the fuel station will allow the District to always be prepared during times of emergency and have fuel available to provide critical and crucial services to residents.
The District added to its portfolio, The Wildwood Utility Dependent District (WUDD) in March 2021 of this year. The City of Wildwood approved Ordinance Number O2021-16 on March 22, 2021, to create the Wildwood Utility Dependent District (WUDD). This newly created district held its organizational meeting on March 23, 2021, and elected a Chair and Vice-Chair to serve. This new Dependent District will be similar to North Sumter County Utility Dependent District (NSCUDD) in that it will purchase and operate utilities south of SR 44. WUDD is purchasing South Sumter Utilities (SSU).
Additionally, the District Clerk and her team coordinated the organizational meetings for the Wildwood Community Development District (WUDD) and Village Community Development District No. 14, resulting in the addition of ten (10) new Board Members. Over the course of the fiscal year, the Clerk’s Office effectively published agendas, provided staff support, and prepared minutes for 243 Board and Committee Meetings, totaling more than 230 hours. In an effort to increase resident participation at meetings and gain efficiencies in reserving rooms at the recreation centers, beginning in October 2021, the Board and Committee meeting locations have been regionalized to include the Savannah Regional Recreation Center, SeaBreeze Regional Recreation Center, and the Everglades Regional Recreation Complex.
The Customer Service Department strategically implemented a cross-departmental customer service experience with the inclusion of recreation customer service team members; and unified our community’s customer service needs into one location. As The Villages continues to grow and expand, we will re-examine how customer service is provided in order to meet our community’s needs.
Community Standards made changes to their department structure as well, aligning the department for future growth of The Villages. A deed compliance Administrative Coordinator was hired to support department operations and provide support to the Deed Compliance Manager; attending deed compliance public hearings at VCCDD, Districts 1 – 4, and Lady Lake / Lake County portion of The Villages.
Deed Compliance implementation and architectural review for Village Community Development District No. 12, was effective October 1, 2021; as well as the adoption of policies and procedures for unauthorized home improvements on District-owned rights of way within the boundaries of Village Community Development District No. 4.
The Architectural Review Committee (ARC) continued to meet weekly, processing 5,000 applications from Lady Lake/Lake County and Districts 1 – 10 portions of The Villages from March 2021 to mid-September 2021.
The Community Watch Dispatch division has officially become the State of Florida’s first non-911 Call Center to earn accreditation status from the Florid Telecommunications Accreditation Commission. Chief Wolfe and Assistant District Director Carrie Duckett went before the Commission in Orlando on June 23rd, 2021. The Assessment Team Leader Emily Merritt presented the report to the Commission. The Commission Chair Marette Sims stated that The Villages Community Watch was required to meet 100% of all applicable standards, instead of the normal 90%, due to the stipulation that it is not a 911 Call Center. The Commission voted unanimously that they had successfully completed this task.
The accreditation changes have made several enhancements and efficiencies in Community Watch Dispatch. Policy and Procedures were updated to meet the same requirements of the six local law enforcement agencies that Dispatch communicates with every day. Documentation has been improved to help secure statistical data and informational purposes.
In August 2021, the Aviary Recreation Center (est. December 2020) was one of the few recreation centers in the state selected for the 2021 Facility Showcase by the Florida Recreation and Park Association. Aviary Recreation Center is in The Village of Hawkins, set amongst an eagle preserve, and features a theme focused on birds. This Showcase is The Villages Recreation & Parks twelfth recognized facility in the last ten years!
In a joint venture, Recreation & Parks and District Property Management have been working on the First Responders Recreation Center, a major capital improvement project scheduled to open in 2022. The Recreation & Parks Department is developing a formal plan to advertise, promote, and receive memorabilia donations for this new recreation facility. A few of the outdoor amenities planned are a Resort Style Pool, 18 Hole Putt & Play, Croquet/Lawn Bowling Court, Beach Tennis/Sand Volleyball Court, Outdoor Exercise Equipment, Basketball Court, Tennis Courts, Pickleball Courts, Fire Pit, and Picnic Pavilions.
Executive Golf saw three major golf course renovations completed. A comprehensive renovation of the Silver Lake Executive Course occurred in the historic side of The Villages which included new greens, tees, complete re-grassing, and landscape enhancements. This project came in under budget for a $170,765.88 cost savings. Additionally, two course greens renovations took place at the Sweetgum and Sandhill Executive Golf Courses, which utilized new turf varieties developed for drought resistance and shade tolerance. These capital infrastructure improvement projects will bring continued enjoyment to our residents and guests.
Following the completion of a project to map all District-owned golf courses in 2020, the Executive Golf department has developed a detailed mapping of all the Executive Golf Maintenance building complexes and fueling stations, including an extensive asset inventory, and cataloging. This will benefit future contract procurements, lease agreements, contactor accountability efforts, and continued environmental initiatives with Audubon International on District-owned facilities.
The Villages Public Safety Department (VPSD) has grown to nine Fire Stations, with 150 Firefighters and six Battalion Chiefs. The current makeup of the department is 61% Paramedics and 39% EMTs.
The Neighbors Helping Neighbors ® AED program continues to be a huge success and has grown to over 247 AED groups throughout The Villages with over 5,000 trained responders and a total of 651 AEDs in service. The Cardiac Save rate in The Villages is at 15% which is above the National Average of 10%.
VPSD firefighters have saved a total of over $17 million dollars in property and contents this fiscal year. This is due to strategic station locations, enhanced staffing, and efficient fire-scene operations.
These are just a few of the accomplishments and projects we have completed. Every decision that is made by the District is carefully reviewed by management, staff, and the Board Supervisors of which they pertain and is made to enhance the quality of life for the residents of The Villages.
You can find more information at www.Districtgov.org . On the main page click on “Keeping Score-Balanced Scorecard”.