Taxation Without Representation

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Geo

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Sep 5, 2007, 7:19:11 AM9/5/07
to HarmonyFL
Harmony residents recently received a notice about the 2008 Harmony
CDD Budget dated August 3, 2007. It begins:


"Dear Property Owner,

This Notice is issued pursuant to section 197.3632, Florida Statutes
(2004) ... The Harmony CDD provides certain types of infrastructure
for the lands within the District including your property.

The District will hold a public hearing ...

The District imposes special assessments on your property ...

You have the right to appear at this public hearing and express any
objections ...

It is important to pay your assessments since failure to do so will
cause a tax certificate to be issued against the property which may
result in loss of title.

I hope this information is helpful. ..."


If you would like more information about the 2008 Harmony CDD Budget,
please contact the CDD board:

http://www.harmonycdd.com/directors.shtml


Here's the short story: our already high CDD taxes are being raised.

In most cases, this means that Harmony homeowners will now be paying
at least $100 more in CDD taxes per year, starting in 2008. And this
is on top of the thousands in CDD taxes that we already pay every
year. Bear in mind that these CDD taxes are not property taxes. CDD
taxes are paid over and above our already exorbitant property taxes
(not to mention our home owners association dues). For my house, on a
medium size C lot in Harmony, this all adds up to about $7000 per
year!

After paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to live in Harmony (way
out in the middle of nowhere with empty promises of many things to
come), with the nearest market a 15 minute round trip away and the
nearest major mall more than a 70 minute round trip away, with less
than mediocre educational offerings, with severely limited
recreational offerings and with almost no dining or entertainment in
the area, one wonders what exactly are we paying all this money for?

Let's review a couple of the items from the 2008 budget. The first
thing we notice is that other than utility expenses, the largest two
items in the budget are:

LANDSCAPE POND AREA (POND EMBANKMENTS - 12) $108,000
PHASE 3 BLVD. LONG PARK EAST $96,000

What will all of this money really be used for?

My lot is on one of the retention ponds in Harmony. The only
landscaping I've seen there is the weekly / biweekly mowing of the
pond's embankment grass. The rampant algae / pond scum I see in the
pond is rarely "landscaped". Does it really cost that much to mow
grass around the ponds? I've watched the guy mow around my pond. I'm
sure it takes less than an hour.

I tried to contact Bob Nanni, the current Harmony CDD manager, but
apparently he is too busy to respond to residents in a timely manner.
So without otherwise being told, it would seem that most of this money
is slated for use by the new "Phase III" of Harmony (ie. where no one
lives yet, as far as I can tell) and by the Harmony golf course (which
contains most of the retention ponds in Harmony). Note, the Harmony
golf course is owned by Harmony Development Company, not by the
Harmony CDD.

So how does any of this make sense? Why should current residents of
Phase I and Phase II in Harmony be paying taxes to develop Phase III?
Why should we be paying to maintain the golf course ponds? Why have we
paid so much to develop new phases and to maintain golf course ponds
in the past?

When Starwood / Harmony Development Company starts selling houses in
Phase III, will they be sharing their profits with us (ie. those whose
tax money is currently being invested in the future of Phase III)? Not
likely.

The total increase in assessments to Harmony residents from 2007 to
2008 is $130,736.

If Harmony Development Company pays their own development expenses
(and pond maintenance on the golf course), Harmony residents would not
have their CDD taxes raised this year. In fact, we would be due a
refund.

When we start asking ourselves how the CDD board could, in good
conscience, charge taxes to Harmony residents for developer costs, the
answer becomes abundantly clear, once we understand the makeup of the
board.

All members of the Harmony CDD board were hand picked by Harmony
Development Company.

The Vice Chairman of the Harmony CDD board is Greg Golgowski. Many of
us know Mr. Golgowski as the conservationist hired by Harmony
Development to manage the environmental details of Harmony. Mr.
Golgowski has been a loyal employee of Harmony Development for years.

The Chairman of the Harmony CDD board is Bob Evans. Yes, this is the
same Bob Evans who appears prominently in previous posts regarding the
"Outstanding Charter School" promised to residents of Harmony since
January of 2003. The charter was dissolved by Mr. Evans shortly after
he himself promised ongoing support for the charter school (see
"Outstanding Charter School? - A Brief History " posted 5/19/2006 and
"Outstanding Charter School? - One Last Slap in the Face" posted
6/23/2006). Mr. Evans is the onsite consultant hired by Starwood to
represent their interests in Harmony.

Not a single Harmony CDD board member is also a Harmony resident, with
one exception. The one board member who lives in Harmony (Nancy
Snyder) was selected by the developer (not elected, but selected, just
like the other board members). Although I have nothing against Ms.
Snyder (we have never met), it would appear that she serves the role
of "token resident" on the Harmony CDD board. As a real estate
investor herself (like Harmony Development), Ms. Snyder owns four
houses in Harmony. This being the case, I'm not sure that Ms. Snyder
represents the same interests as those of us who moved to live in
Harmony rather than to flip houses here.

Thus the Harmony CDD board is really just an extension of Starwood /
Harmony Development Company. The Harmony CDD board does not represent
the people of Harmony, it represents the developer of Harmony. The
people of Harmony are completely at the mercy of Starwood / Harmony
Development Company. When you move to Harmony there are apparently no
limits on how much Harmony Development can raise your taxes and no
limits on how they can use your tax money for their own purposes.

The bottom line? An age old injustice rears its ugly head once again
in America, but in a new post modern form. What the founders of this
nation so long ago fought against has reappeared to plague their
progeny.

Of course, I am referring to taxation without representation.

Is there anyone else bothered by this? What more will it take for the
residents of Harmony to hear a call to action?

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